Lawmaker's "elephant expenses" challenged

Claire Davenport: "An Austrian member of the European Parliament is under investigation over suspect expenses claims totaling 1.3 million euros, including one item listed as 'elephant'." Read the rest

A fatal lack of accountability

As long as secrecy and anonymity reign, public sector bureaucracies will be the hiding places for the incompetent, lazy and corrupt. Failures will be rewarded and successes stifled. It’s easier to lie when no one knows your name. It’s easier to do all sorts of unethical, if not criminal, things when you are promised anonymity.

UK Tory MP added a servant's wing to his house at taxpayers' expense

The latest installment in the British MP expense scandal, in which Members of Parliament have been revealed to have spent millions in "expenses" on things like having their moats cleaned, buying porn and/or tampons for their spouses, hiring private security guards, paying nonexistent mortgages, etc:

A Tory MP called Sir John Butterfill from Bournemouth West, Dorset used his expense account to add a servant's wing to his country house. At first he denied that these people were servants, calling them his "gardener and his wife," but later, he said, "the mistake I made was that, in claiming interest [from the expenses allowance] on the home, I didn't separate from that the value of the servants' ... er the staff ... wing. I claimed the whole of that and the whole of the council tax related to that."

He will repay £40,000 to cover the tax, after designating the property to the inland revenue as his main residence but designating it to the Commons authorities as his second home, allowing him to claim allowances.

As for the servants' quarters in Woking, Butterfill will be handing back £20,000.

Together, it will cost him a mere £60,000 to leave Westminster with a clean bill of health at the general election.

John Butterfill claimed £17,000 MPs' expenses for servants' ... er, staff quarters (Image: Previously:Brits: Act now to stop Parliament from hiding MPs' expense ... UK MPs to hide their expenses from Freedom of Information requests ... Read the rest

Tory MP says it was OK to bill taxpayer for his 500 tree forest, critics are "jealous" of his private forest

People outside of the UK might have missed the huge scandal over MPs' expenses -- basically, it turns out that Members of Parliament have been billing the public for all kinds of crazy things, including mortgages that they'd already paid off, maintenance on their moats (I shit you not) and pools, tampons (for male MPs), private security details, and so on. Most MPs have fallen over themselves to apologize for their unethical behavior.

Not Tory MP Anthony Steen.

Steen billed the taxpayer for maintenance of his 500-tree forest, upkeep of which was apparently necessary to the conducting of his duties at Parliament.

Steen says that constituents who resent their tax money going to pay for his forest are "just jealous."

After pondering the question of exactly why people were so angry over his claim for the treatment of 500 trees in the grounds of his house, he offered a succinct explanation today : "Jealousy".
Expenses row: MP who claimed for 500 trees accuses constituents of 'jealousy' Read the rest