On August 29, 2007, Stewart Olsen was appointed to the senate to represent New Brunswick after serving as Harper's press secretary in the PMO.
While she claimed to live in New Brunswick, she used "travel status" to claim $86.35 per diem for food and $28 a night for housing during her time in Ottawa. During her first 19 months in the senate, records show she claimed $63,594 in living and travel expenses.
The Huffington Post has found she even claimed days the senate didn't sit where there was absolutely no work to do. The senate notified its members this spring they couldn't claim per diems for days the senate didn't sit.
Olsen was contacted by The Huffington Post and said, "I will absolutely repay immediately if my staff — if we made an error in claiming per diems."
"The rules said you had to have a property of a certain value … and I think that was it. It was later on, that there was primary residence and secondary residence," she said.
When she was confronted about when she got her New Brunswick health card and driver's license, she was unable to answer.
"I don’t even remember … I don't know," she said. "It was what it was. We had a lot to do. I had a new job, I had a totally different life, of commuting from New Brunswick. I couldn't even tell you when."
Her expense records point to more trends. From December 1, 2010 to February 28, 2011 the senate only sat for 17 days, 8 in December and 9 in February. During this period, she claimed $4,360.88 in living expenses. Her senate calendar shows she had no business during this period, but she was paid $2,520 for housing and $1,840.88 for food. She was paid slightly more than the entitled $1,467.95 for days the Senate didn't sit.