So where did the $90,172 really come from?
The Senate housing allocation scandal led right into Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office this past week.
It turns out that Harper's own Chief of staff, Nigel Wright, wrote out a $ 90,172 cheque as a gift to his friend Senator Mike Duffy, to get him out of a big money mess.
A Senate committee had ordered Duffy to give back $90,172 he had claimed improperly as a housing allowance to which he was not entitled.
At first Duffy told everybody that Wright never gave him any money. The $90.172 he paid back to the Senate was a loan he got from the Royal Bank of Canada.
So did Wright give him a cheque or not? Who is telling the truth?
Surely a smart fellow such as Wright will remember a cheque that size. But then a fellow who takes out a $90,172 bank loan will remember that too. Somebody's got their facts wrong.
Wright said the money he gave Duffy was an unconditional gift.
Then Duffy changed his story and said he really did get a cheque from Wright but it was not unconditional.
He had to shut up about certain things.
"I have remained silent on orders from the Prime Minister's Office," Duffy wrote in an e-mail that ended up in the hands of the news media.
What did Duffy mean by that? Why ' remain silent?' Is his silence hiding something? If so, what?
Duffy added only that if he remained silent the Prime Minister's Office would ‘go easy' on him, whatever that means.
If it's true there was a cheque from Wright, then Wright himself could be in big trouble. The law prohibits people from giving money to politicians, whether the money comes in brown envelopes or in the form of cheques from the prime minister's office. Wright should have known that.
Does Wright make money "gifts" to other Conservative senators?
If so, could he give us the names?
What was Harper's reaction when Wright told him what he had done?
Wright says he never told the boss about his hand-out to Duffy. Why not? What kind of chief of staff doesn't tell the boss what's going on?
It's getting worse. Yesterday it leaked out that Duffy billed taxpayers for his senate housing allocation while he was on vacation in Florida. Not nice.
Duffy also billed the Senate when he was out campaigning for the Conservatives during the last election campaign. Again, not nice.
To date, Harper has fired neither Wright nor Duffy.