Taxpayers Pick up Portion of $22,000 EUB Spy Bill without Explanation

Taxpayers Pick up Portion of $22,000 EUB Spy Bill without Explanation Press Release by Hugh MacDonald, Shadow Energy Minister, September 24, 2007
Edmonton – Alberta Liberal Shadow Minister of Energy Hugh MacDonald is again demanding a public inquiry into the EUB spying scandal in Rimbey and Redwater, given that access to information documents show that over $22,000 was spent on hiring private investigators. Shepp Johnman invoiced the EUB $16,045.53 for its covert investigators at Rimbey and $6,833.59 for their similar activities at Redwater. The total spy bill, which taxpayers paid a portion of, is $22,879.12 for five weeks. Last year, the EUB received $74 million from industry and $46 million from the taxpayers to fund their operations.
The private investigators billed 177 hours for their covert work in Rimbey.  “Unsuspecting taxpayers at the hearing in Rimbey had no idea their money was being used by a government agency to hire undercover spies to monitor their activities,” says MacDonald. “This $22,000 spy bill is another reason why we need a public inquiry into the EUB’s use of private investigators. There are questions that can only be answered through a public inquiry.” MacDonald says the following questions need to be answered:

• Why was the EUB employee who oversaw the energy hearing budget at Redwater unaware of the $6,833 expenditure?
• Who at the EUB approved or authorized the $22,000 expenditure?
Does this amount have to be approved by supervisors or does the security team leader have a blank cheque?
• If the value of the contract signed by the EUB is under $25,000, is an authorization by a member of the executive team not required?
• Was this contract approved after the commencement of the spying activities?
• Who at the Department of Energy was aware that the private investigators were hired to do the covert work?
Why did the spy team increase to two members on certain days during the Rimbey hearing?
“The Minister of Energy, who is responsible for the EUB, doesn’t want to know the answers to these questions, but certainly taxpayers do, since they are footing a large portion of this spy bill,” says MacDonald. “A public inquiry is needed now more than ever.”

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