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Friday, January 05, 2007

isn't it nice to have a government credit card?

I have a pretty good idea what would happen to me if I spent $29,000 in on a personal trip to Las Vegas on my work credit card...

Alberta's Finance Department has confirmed an aide to a former MLA has paid back $29,000 in personal expenses he charged to a government credit card, including a Las Vegas hotel bill and luggage.

Sasha Angus worked at the legislature for 3½ years as an executive assistant to former MLA and economic development minister Mark Norris.

According to a 2004 memo leaked to CBC News, when Angus left government he owed $29,000 in personal expenses he had charged to his government credit card. The memo was addressed to then Finance Minister Shirley McClellan.
And it gets even more scandalously mysterious...
CBC News has asked to see the credit card records and correspondence related to the case, but the province refused.

Alberta's Privacy Commission investigated the government's refusal and has sided with CBC News.

"All of the records should be released in the … public interest of promoting government being open and transparent in its dealing with tax dollars," said Privacy Commission spokesman Wayne Wood.

However, the Alberta government continues to block the release and has appealed the commission's stand.

The office of Alberta's auditor general also wants to see the records and wants to know why it wasn't informed about the problem.
And from the Chair of Alberta's Public Accounts Committee...
“This is an ideal opportunity for Mr Stelmach to keep his promise of transparency and release all government expenses,” said [Edmonton Gold Bar Liberal MLA] Hugh MacDonald, who is chair of the Public Accounts Committee. “The fact that the government refused to release the aide’s expense records to CBC throws their claim of openness and transparency right out the window.”

“It’s obvious this government is not learning from their mistakes – this is yet another example of lavish Tory spending,” added MacDonald. “What kind of control have we got on our spending? None!"
Other than this being a ridiculously outragous and irresponsible use of a public credit card, it got nearly no media attention. Had an Executive Assistant to a Minister in Ottawa benn caught spending $29,000 in Las Vegas, you can bet it would be all over the Alberta media...

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Agreed. Where is the Alberta Report and Edmonton Sun screaming at Government corruption and the culture of entitlement in the Alberta PC's?

Anonymous said...

I moved to Alberta from Manitoba ten years ago and can't understand why Albertans are so complacent and apathetic when crap like this goes on in their government. It's not very different than the Kelly Charlebois incident, it's a culture of entitlement. And now Mark Norris is the PC Executive Director.

Steve said...

have a pretty good idea what would happen to me if I spent $29,000 in on a personal trip to Las Vegas on my work credit card...

So do I: you'd get a lot of your attempts at payment rejected, since that's almost fifteen times your credit limit.

daveberta said...

haha, smart ass. :-)

Anonymous said...

That reminds me of the Saturday Night Live sketch where Christopher Walken played a character named "Colonel Angus".

docsanchez said...

The government doesn't want it released because what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. That's been written into Alberta law hasn't it?

There has to be more to this story. They caught him and had him pay it back. That should be a feel good story for taxpayers. But by not releasing the info all the government is doing is making taxpayers ask is: What is on the bill that you don't want us to see?

I too want to know why hardly any media has picked up on this. I'm almost as mad at them as the government on this issue.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for point this out Dave...

I always though the Sun hated government corruption. I can't WAIT to SEE the HEADLINES on the Calgary Sun about it.

Anonymous said...

Asking "What is on the bill that they don't want us to see?" is precisely why we don't need to see it. Prurient interest is an American thing. Obviously the system works because he got caught and spanked. He paid it back. Move along, people, nothing to see here.

Anonymous said...

If public dollars are mispent then the public, who provides said dollars, has every right to know how they were spent. Just because he was forced to pay it back doesn't make it a "settled issue" by a long shot. I think this issue a hot potatoe that is going to start throwing off more steam as we get closer towards "Steady Eddy's" first election.

It's time for a change here in Alberta.

michael in calgary said...

"What is on the bill that you don't want us to see?"

Male hookers and blow?

But seriously, Steady Eddie has to understand that his government can't go around hiding information like this and at the same time call themselves transparent. This is a complete credibility issue.

If Stelmach is truely "Honest Ed" then he will step up to the plate and release the information. If he doesn't, then he's just another politician.

j.d.h.m. said...

Look at the hypocrisy! This scandal compared to the 2003 Ottawa scadal when Sheila Copps assistant Charles Boyer spent $31,000 on lunches... Mark Norris' Executive Assistant spends $29,000 of tax payers dollars in Vegas and the Alberta Tories get the soft treatment by the media...

Sept 18, 2003 - CTV Copps accused of letting aide rack up huge tab

Sept 18, 2003 - CBC Former Copps aide big spender at posh restaurants

Sept 29, 2003 -Link Byfield on Boyer. Where is the Cizitzens Centre for "Freedom and Democracy" on the Vegas $29,000?

From the Canadian Taxpayers Federation: 6th Annual Teddies Waste Awards

"Worst Adaptation of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s: ”This is the story of Charles Boyer, a young public servant in Ottawa, who is kept by a prominent, older woman. Mr. Boyer dinged taxpayers for almost $30,000 over a two-year period while his boss, Heritage Minister Sheila Copps was seeking the Liberal leadership. One memorable scene has Mr. Boyer rushing from restaurant to restaurant on June 12, 2002, charging taxpayers for two separate dinners. (The first for $102 at an Ottawa-area Japanese restaurant and a second $397 meal in Little Italy.)"

It's a sham that the media treats the wasting of tax payers dollars in Ottawa as a massive scandal, yet treats the same waste and irresponsible use in Alberta as not news.

Albertans deserve better from their media and their government.

j.d.h.m. said...

Look at the hypocrisy! This scandal compared to the 2003 Ottawa scadal when Sheila Copps assistant Charles Boyer spent $31,000 on lunches... Mark Norris' Executive Assistant spends $29,000 of tax payers dollars in Vegas and the Alberta Tories get the soft treatment by the media...

Sept 18, 2003 - CTV Copps accused of letting aide rack up huge tab

Sept 18, 2003 - CBC Former Copps aide big spender at posh restaurants

Sept 29, 2003 -Link Byfield on Boyer. Where is the Cizitzens Centre for "Freedom and Democracy" on the Vegas $29,000?

From the Canadian Taxpayers Federation: 6th Annual Teddies Waste Awards

"Worst Adaptation of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s: ”This is the story of Charles Boyer, a young public servant in Ottawa, who is kept by a prominent, older woman. Mr. Boyer dinged taxpayers for almost $30,000 over a two-year period while his boss, Heritage Minister Sheila Copps was seeking the Liberal leadership. One memorable scene has Mr. Boyer rushing from restaurant to restaurant on June 12, 2002, charging taxpayers for two separate dinners. (The first for $102 at an Ottawa-area Japanese restaurant and a second $397 meal in Little Italy.)"

It's a sham that the media treats the wasting of tax payers dollars in Ottawa as a massive scandal, yet treats the same waste and irresponsible use in Alberta as not news.

Albertans deserve better from their media and their government.

We got rid of the corrupt LIberals in Ottawa, now it's time to do the same to the Tories in Alberta.

docsanchez said...

Interesting parallel. Thanks for that j.d.h.m.

As for the point about "what is there on the bill they don't want us to see" I was more thinking about security issues and the such, but thinking about it now I'm sure why those would be on a Vegas credit card, so maybe it is "hookers and blow"?! (Ah, random uninformed speculation...)

To get back to the Dave's question: why hasn't there been more media attention? Are Alberta based media soft on our own politicians (it didn't seem like it with the Income Trust hub-bub) or just provincial politicians? Or is this just a case of the media honestly missing something? Either way I can't believe there hasn't been more up-roar.

Anonymous said...

a hell of a stag it was...:0

eugene plawiuk said...

Remember the story during the leadership race about money being funneled to the Norris campaign from an aide? Hmm I wonder.....