National News

Duffy stayed at P.E.I. hotels in winter: RCMP

By Steve Rennie, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA - The Mounties believe Sen. Mike Duffy spent the night in hotels instead of his cottage when he travelled to Prince Edward Island during the winter months, newly released court documents show.

The RCMP says Duffy spent 35 nights in Charlottetown hotels between 2009 and 2012 instead of staying at his declared primary residence in Cavendish.

Last week, lead investigator Cpl. Greg Horton asked for and received a search warrant for hotel records.

"I believe that those records will provide evidence of the named offences showing that Sen. Duffy stays in hotels when visiting P.E.I. during winter months, not his declared primary residence," Horton says in the court document.

The RCMP says Duffy's personal calendar shows he stayed at the Charlottetown hotel, the Delta hotel and the Great George hotel during his island stays.

Duffy's assistant told Horton the senator's cottage in Cavendish is not on the main highway and he preferred to stay in Charlottetown during winter storms.

"The house in Cavendish is snowed in," the assistant told Horton.

"Also, when his visits are short (for the weekend or something) he prefers to stay closer to the airport to arrive on time."

Horton says he reviewed Duffy's calendar and credit-card statements and found the senator stayed in Charlottetown hotels at other times during the year.

"Sen. Duffy has collected almost $90,000 from the Senate, claiming his primary residence is a cottage that he does not live in for at least four months of each year," says Horton.

"During the 16 winter months that I examined, consisting of 481 days, I could only identify 35 nights that he spent in P.E.I."

Duffy, along with fellow former Conservatives Patrick Brazeau and Pamela Wallin, was suspended from the Senate in early November over expense claims.

Liberal Mac Harb resigned from the Senate in August after paying back $231,000 for ineligible housing and travel expenses.

Harb and Brazeau face criminal charges of fraud and breach of trust, while Duffy and Wallin have not been charged.

In April, RCMP officials said Nigel Wright, former chief of staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, would not face criminal charges in connection with the continuing Senate expenses scandal.

Wright resigned as Harper's right-hand man after it was disclosed he wrote a personal cheque for $90,000 to Duffy to allow the disgraced former Conservative senator to repay disallowed housing expenses.

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