Monday, June 10, 2013

Doesn't she look ravishing taxpayers?

Tory MP claimed visits to hair and nail salons, grooming products, and toothpaste as election expenses

Eve Adams paperwork still under review by Elections Canada

By Glen McGregor
Monday, June 10, 2013
 Eve Adams celebrates her election as Conservative MP for Mississauga-Brampton South on May 2, 2011. (Photographs by: Tim Fraser)

OTTAWA — A Conservative MP claimed election expenses that included hundreds of dollars for repeat visits to a hair and nail salons, skin care and grooming products, and even whitening toothpaste.

The campaign of Mississauga – Brampton South MP Eve Adams, who serves as parliamentary secretary to the minister of veterans affairs, claimed a total of $2,777 in “other personal expenses” on her 2011 election return.

Elections Canada’s guidebook for candidates puts a $200 limit on the amount of other personal costs they can claim and only for expenses that “would not normally incur if there was no election.”

Elections Canada has yet to give final approval to the campaign return. If the watchdog were to allow the claims, taxpayers would be required reimburse the Adams campaign for 60 per cent of the allowed costs.

Adams, 38, is one of a small group of current MPs whose paperwork from the 2011 election is still under review by Elections Canada auditors. Two of her caucus colleagues, Shelly Glover and James Bezan, both of Manitoba, last month asked a court to intervene to keep them from getting tossed out of the House of Commons over returns the agency says are incomplete.

Documents filed with Elections Canada show the Adams campaign submitted receipts worth $424 from Davinci Salon and Spa in Mississauga. These included six bills for $33.90 — an amount that corresponds with the cost of a wash and blow dry, according to the salon’s owner — and two others for about $110 — the cost of highlights or colouring.

In all, she made seven visits to the salon during the five-week election, the receipts show.

The campaign also submitted a $166 dry-cleaning bill and a $260 receipt from Shoppers Drug Mart that included: Crest 3D mouthwash and whitening toothpaste, Neutrogena cleanser, Nivea Visage cream, a Sally Hershberger hair product, and travel hairbrushes, among other items.

Another bill filed by the campaign was for New Nails and Spa, four days before the election, for $63 of work with a $4 tip.

Adams even claimed as a personal campaign expense a $1.58 bill from a convenience store for a single edition of the Toronto Sun newspaper.

The biggest line items Adams claimed were related to the $12-hourly wages paid to a Margaret Artion, who, Adams says, looked after her young child. Elections Canada allows candidates to claim child-care expenses related to the election.

The invoices filed with the campaign do not describe the type of work Artion did and use an address that corresponds to a Brampton hair salon, Mako Hair Architects and Spa. Artion worked about 150 hours over 22 days during the writ period and was paid $1,857, the invoices show.

Outside the House of Commons on Monday, Adams said Artion was paid to look after her five-year-old son during the campaign. In a followup email Monday night, Adams said Artion has never been a hairdresser and used the hair studio, which belongs to her son, only as a mailing address while she was moving her residence.

She referred other questions to the official agent for her campaign, her now-estranged husband, Peter Adams. In an email, Peter Adams said the campaign return had been submitted to Elections Canada over a year ago.

“Elections Canada has since requested some administrative clarifications, for example copies of the backs of cheques as they only have the front,” he wrote. “All requests for additional information have been provided to Elections Canada and we are awaiting on them to finalize and approve the return.”

In a followup email, Peter Adams said that, as official agent, he was required to disclose all personal expenses while knowing there was a $200 cap. He said Artion provided only childcare services for their son, who was five at the time, and that his wife was campaigning until 10 p.m. some nights.

According to media reports, Eve Adams is currently planning to marry Dimitri Soudas, 33, the former director of communications to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and current director of communications for the Canadian Olympic Committee.

The returns submitted to Elections Canada give a rare glimpse into the kind of expenses some MPs charge — but only during the election period. Once elected, MPs’ expense claims are hidden from public view, with only aggregate figures in broad expense categories ever released.

In response to the Senate expense scandal, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau has said MPs and Senators in his caucus will begin posting their expense details online beginning this fall.

Elections Canada documents show that the Adams campaign had to ask for an extension to file its return and pay some of its bills. The agency granted the extra time to allow the campaign to pay off $15,000 owed to Responsive Media Group, the Conservative Party’s main voter contact firm.

In August 2012, the agency gave the Adams campaign permission to pay RMG as well as the personal expenses amount owed to Adams, but it is unclear if it had fully reviewed those costs at that point.

The file was open as recently as April 2013, when Peter Adams provided a long list of revisions to the original return that reversed many of the claims for other election expenses. Included in the list of other expenses submitted were $327 in Mississauga parking tickets on a vehicle rented by the campaign.

Before she ran for federal office, Adams served as a Mississauga city councilor. Her husband ran in the by-election to replace her in 2011 but lost.

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