Winnipeg Sun Red River College’s president is being accused of taking advantage of taxpayers after apparently claiming expenses for golf shoes, vehicle insurance and possibly even her driver’s licence.
Stephanie Forsyth submitted $78,842.21 worth of expenses between September 2010 and January 2013, according to the results of a freedom of information request sent to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
The document displays charges for a driver’s licence, a $200 pair of golf shoes, $374.25 worth of ballet tickets and a $134 duffel bag.
“A charge to the taxpayer of $205 for golf shoes or her driver’s licence, I think many people will find utterly inappropriate, even disgusting,” said Arthur Schafer, director of the University of Manitoba’s Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics.
Schafer said the president of a publicly funded college should have asked herself if filing such expenses was appropriate in a time of provincial budget restraints and an overall tough economy.
Though a hand-written note on the receipt for golf shoes stated they were “for golf tournaments where she represented on behalf of RRC,” the professor said the purchase still raises ethical concerns.
“She’s going to have a tough time persuading most Manitobans that her golf shoes really are a work expense,” he said.
The CTF has sent a letter to RRC’s board asking them to review the expenses, in the hopes some might be reimbursed to the college.
“I’ve been looking into public officials’ expenses for five years and I’ve never seen golf shoes or a driver’s licence. Is there more in the $78,000 worth of receipts?” asked Colin Craig, the federation’s Manitoba director.
There is some dispute about whether the full amount on the receipts was paid out. One part of the document indicates the college only reimbursed Forsyth for half of certain vehicle expenses.
A written statement from Richard Lennon, the board’s chair, also claims the college reimbursed a portion of the president’s vehicle expenses but not her 2012 driver’s licence.
Craig, however, said he double-checked if the 2011 driver’s licence was reimbursed and an official confirmed to him that it was.
Red River College’s Board of Governors has not yet confirmed if it will do a full review of the expenses.
The written statement indicates it will “consider” the CTF’s request to do so.
“The Board of Governors takes very seriously its responsibility for fiscal prudence and will consider the items you have pointed out to provide re-assurance that these expenses are, indeed, appropriate for reimbursement,” the statement directed to Craig says.
Forsyth could not be reached for comment.
HEY, BIG SPENDER
A list of Red River College President Stephanie Forsyth’s $78,842.21 in expenses filed between September 2010 and January 2013: •$1,482.33 for vehicle repairs and winter tire package •$1,749 for driver’s licence and vehicle insurance •$374.25 for Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada tickets •$204.94 for golf shoes •$78.40 for Chamois vehicle cleaning •$134.40 duffel bag
Note: For some vehicle expenses, Red River covered half the costs involved.
Source: Canadian Taxpayers Federation freedom of information request
First posted: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 09:05 AM CDT | Updated: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 05:08 PM CDT