|Senator Mike Duffy in Ottawa, May 9, 2013. (ANDRE FORGET/QMI Agency)
OTTAWA — Two Conservative senators are denying they helped pressure Mike Duffy into taking the $90,000 backroom bailout from Nigel Wright.
Senators David Tkachuk and Carolyn Stewart Olsen said Tuesday in a statement that neither knew of the deal between Prime Minister Harper’s former chief of staff and the beleaguered P.E.I. senator until the details were reported publicly.
CTV News reported Monday they’d seen e-mails that indicated Wright consulted with Tkachuk and Stewart Olsen to help pressure a reluctant Duffy into taking the cheque to repay his ineligible housing expenses.
The e-mails, paraphrased by CTV News, show Duffy was threatened with being expelled from the Senate over failed residency requirements unless he went along with the plan.
Tkachuk and Stewart Olsen were part of a three-member committee overseeing an independent audit into Duffy’s expenses at the time.
Wright later assured Duffy his seat was safe, according to court documents made public in July.
There was also an alleged agreement that the Senate committee would go easy on Duffy in its report if he took the cheque and repaid the money.
Stewart Olsen told QMI Agency Tuesday the committee didn’t whitewash Duffy’s expense report. Asked about the e-mails seen by CTV, she said she doesn’t know “what they are or what they’re talking about.”
CTV News also reported Harper’s former director of communications, Angelo Persichilli, urged Duffy to take the cash. Persichilli told the network he was giving advice to Duffy as a friend.
Duffy is currently under RCMP investigation for alleged breach of trust over his inappropriate expense claims.