'You have to do something': Pressure mounts on Magliocca to publicly explain his expenses

The Ward 2 councillor hasn’t spoken publicly about issues with his expenses since the integrity commissioner recused himself from looking into a complaint against Magliocca

Coun. Joe Magliocca, photographed in Calgary city council chambers on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. Gavin Young / Postmedia

Coun. Joe Magliocca has been silent on the firestorm around his expenses this week, but behind the scenes, some are urging him to address the issue publicly.

Craig Chandler heads up the Progressive Group for Independent Business (PGIB), a membership-funded group planning to back four city council incumbents in the 2021 municipal election, including Magliocca. But Chandler said the controversy is testing his group’s support as Magliocca faces criticism for expensing at least $1,800 in “hosting costs” at the 2019 Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference — including meals and drinks where elected officials listed on submitted receipts said they didn’t actually sit down with him.

Magliocca has said he personally paid back about $2,100 of his FCM costs, which, including hotel and flights, totalled about $6,400.

“All of us, including those on the conservative side, want this addressed,” Chandler said Friday. “We care for (Magliocca) deeply, but there comes a point where he’s going to have to explain everything to everybody.”

When Magliocca publicly apologized for “errors” in his FCM expenses at a city council meeting on Feb. 3, he said it would be his final public statement on the matter.

But since then, the number of people who said they didn’t eat or drink with the councillor despite being listed on his receipts has grown to eight, and the city’s integrity commissioner has recused himself from investigating a complaint against Magliocca because the councillor expensed a “social lunch” with him last summer. The commissioner, Sal LoVecchio, said he was “deeply concerned” to discover that Magliocca had used public dollars to cover the meal.

Chandler said he’s been providing advice to Magliocca, but so far the councillor hasn’t followed through.

“He’s at a point right now where everyone is saying, ‘Look, you have to do something.’ It’s not acceptable for anybody for him to not address this situation head on.”

Magliocca has not responded to multiple requests for comment from Postmedia this week. On Wednesday, the councillor was present at a committee meeting, but said via text message that he had a “very important meeting” to attend when it was done. He left council chambers shortly afterward and didn’t return.

Some city councillors also say that Magliocca needs to speak out.

Several councillors, including Magliocca himself, signed on in support of Coun. Jyoti Gondek’s motion to ask the city auditor to investigate all of the Ward 2 councillor’s 2019 expenses.

Coun. Sean Chu, in council chambers on Tuesday. Gavin Young / Postmedia

Coun. Sean Chu said Thursday that Magliocca, as the person at the centre of the situation, is “the one that has to answer to the public.”

And Coun. Ward Sutherland said “people are waiting” to hear from Magliocca.

“Unfortunately, it has painted an ugly brush on all of us,” he said.

“It’s thrown a wrench when the integrity commissioner can’t even investigate. We have to go a completely new route. It doesn’t help, because people want it resolved quickly, and they’ve said that to me.”

Sutherland said the public has to understand that any investigation into Magliocca’s expenses, and the decisions that come out of it, will take a bit more time.

“What this forensic investigation will show through the receipts is: is this a pattern or not a pattern? And that’ll be the evidence.”

Chandler said while he’d been in touch with Magliocca before, he couldn’t reach him on Friday afternoon.

“Joe, for the sake of his family, friends, constituents, alliances and Calgarians as a whole, needs to take immediate action and put this ordeal to bed,” he said.

masmith@postmedia.com

Twitter: @meksmith

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