Deputy premier Tom Rideout defended his $53-a-day per-diem spending in an open line radio appearance today, saying the cash was for “meals and incidentals and stuff like that.”
The information he provided, however, was factually inaccurate.
Contacted by The Telegram, Rideout said he is not disputing Telegram reports that the $53 per diem was specifically for accommodations.
“I’m not disputing that part of it, and I want to make that abundantly clear,” Rideout said Thursday afternoon.
“In the discussion with Randy this morning — I don’t have the transcript in front of me, but I don’t dispute that what you said as a quote is accurate — all I’m saying is what I have said consistently from the beginning: when I went and spoke to the people in the House of Assembly about getting some accommodations in Lewisporte, I was told that, yes, I could do that, and also you can charge the same per-diem rates that you’re charging now.”
According to published spending rules in effect at the time, MHAs had a choice of two options.
They could claim $50 per day for meals without receipts, plus the cost of accommodations — like hotels — with receipts.
Alternatively, they could charge $103 per day for meals and accommodations without receipts.
Rideout generally opted for the latter option. He charged $103 per day — the $53 per diem for accommodations without receipts, plus the $50 per diem for meals.
The $53 per day did not cover meals, as he told VOCM.
The other $50, which Rideout claimed in addition to the $53 per day, covered meals.
Rideout made a minimum of 123 per-diem claims from the fiscal period of 2004-05 through 2006-07 alone.
More to follow in the Friday print edition of the Telegram.