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Red River College president's expenses questioned

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Golf shoes, car washes and winter tires.

Those are just a few of the of expenses submitted by Red River College President Stephanie Forsyth, according to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s prairie director Colin Craig said today.

The taxpayers federation released the expenses claims today after obtaining them through a freedom of information request. Forsyth’s expense total from September 2010 to January 2013 was $78,842.21. The expenses go back to when Forsyth was named the college’s president and chief executive officer.

Craig said the CTF asked for the claims after getting a tip.

"There were huge ones and other ones that seemed to just cross over the line," Craig said. "Golf shoes are not something people expense. If you golf, you’re expected to supply your own attire."

The documents show Forsyth expensed $205 for the golf shoes plus her driver’s license, a bag at the Vancouver airport for $134 and a number of expenses for her BMW, such as car washes, insurance, winter tires and a GPS device.

Craig said the federation has requested the RRC board, in a letter to Chair of the Red River College Board of Governor’s Richard Lennon, to review the expenses and if appropriate, seek reimbursement from Forsyth.

The letter flags several specific expenses, including:

  • Golf shoes - $204.84. "We recognize that golf is an activity that is often mixed with business, but we agree with the whistleblower’s concerns that expensing golf shoes is not a reasonable expenditure for a publicly funded institution. Many casual golfers often play the game without high-end footwear," the CTF said in its letter.
  • Driver’s license It appears Ms. Forsyth expensed her driver’s license. It is not the responsibility of taxpayers or students (through student fees) to pay for a public official’s driver’s license.
  • Car expenses – Vehicle expenses for the BMW she drives "seem to be excessive," said the letter; expenses included winter tires, car insurance, car washes and GPS.
  • Partisan Events – "There seems to be a strong tie to attendance at events featuring NDP speakers and meetings with NDP politicians," Craig said in the letter. "This includes a $107 bill for groceries at Superstore for a dinner with Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross."
  • A $134 duffel bag purchased at the Vancouver Airport.

History

Updated on Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 12:44 PM CDT: Adds document, updates story.

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