Calgary's integrity commissioner steps away from investigation into a councillor's expenses
CALGARY -- The city’s integrity commissioner is stepping away from a formal investigation into expenses filed by Ward 2 councillor Joe Magliocca.
Sal LoVecchio is recusing himself from the inquiry because he and Coun. Magliocca had a meal last year on the taxpayers’ dime.
Documents on the city’s website show Coun. Magliocca expensed a $163 meal with LoVecchio at Franca’s Italian Specialties under his ‘business meeting’ section of his councillor budget in August of 2019.
Late Tuesday afternoon, LoVecchio issued a statement regarding the situation.
"In the last 24 hours, it has come to my attention that Councillor Magliocca expensed that lunch to his Councillor Account and obtained reimbursement. The taxpayers of the City of Calgary should not be paying for a social lunch of mine and I am deeply concerned to find out that this has occurred.
"But this is not the real problem," he said, continuing. "The real problem is I have now been formally asked to investigate the matter of his expense claims and I must recuse myself from doing so. The reason is really quite straight forward. This investigation must not only be but must be seen to be completely independent and impartial. As this expense might become part of the story, an investigation by me, in my view, would not satisfy that requirement."
A formal complaint was submitted Tuesday into Magliocca’s expenses at the 2019 Federation of Canadian Municipaities in Quebec.
As first reported by Postmedia through a Freedom of Information request, Magliocca expensed $6,400 at the conference, which is about double the amount of any of the nine other councillors and mayor who attended.
It was later revealed a number of the politicians from other centres who Magliocca claimed to be dining with said they couldn't recall having met him.
Magliocca rose at the start of the Feb. 3 council meeting and apologized for the errors.
It’s unclear who will now lead the integrity commissioner’s investigation.
LoVecchio’s recusal comes the same day a city committee voted to look into councillor’s expenses further.
The city’s priorities and finance committee voted in favour of sending an urgent notice of motion to city council regarding councillor’s expenses.
The motion, put forth by Coun. Jeromy Farkas, calls for a limit to how many members should be able to attend future FCM meetings. It could also prohibit councillors from expensing alcohol.
“The entire process needs an overhaul,” Farkas said Tuesday.
“Some of the recent events around FCM really illustrated a broader need to take a look at the travel policy, hospitality expenses, things like that.”