04 October 2007

Dicks apologizes, promises to repay

Paul Dicks, the man whose expenses caught the attention of former Auditor General Beth Marshall seven years ago, today apologized for what he described as lapses in judgment.  Dicks promised to repay the taxpayer for expenses claimed for wine and art purchases.

For her part, Marshall turned a blind eye to hundreds of thousands in inappropriate spending in her pursuit of Dicks.

In a recent interview, Marshall said she found nothing inappropriate in members of the legislature handing out public money as gifts to constituents and donations to groups and individuals who were never publicly identified.

Marshall's successor found that the gifts and donations often duplicated existing government department programs, although the money handed out through the House of Assembly was entirely at the discretion of the politician involved.

Elected in 2003, Marshall handed out 34% of her constituency allowance as gifts and donations.  The allowance was intended to cover other things, instead, although members of the legislature routinely spent the money in a manner Marshall's successor and a public inquiry deemed inappropriate.

This allowance is for the payment of expenditures incurred in the performance of constituency business and may cover such items as office rental, equipment, supplies, secretarial and other support services, information material such as newspapers, advertising, purchase of flags, pins, etc..