POLITICS

Severance for disgraced Nova Scotia politician held up by Speaker's office

06/21/2013 10:39 EDT | Updated 08/21/2013 05:12 EDT
HALIFAX - A former Independent politician who pleaded guilty to fraud and breach of trust in Nova Scotia's spending scandal will have to wait before receiving funding to close down his constituency office.

Legislature Speaker Gordie Gosse said Friday the government has decided to hold back the $51,000 in transitional funding to Trevor Zinck.

Zinck resigned Wednesday after hearing he would lose the funding if he was expelled from the legislature, which had been recalled to deal with his status as a sitting member.

Gosse said his office and the Finance Department agreed to examine financial records to determine whether Zinck owes the government any money.

He said there was no time frame for the review.

"We're just going to scan every government department, Speaker's Office included, to see if Mr. Zinck owes any money," said Gosse. "If that is the case then we'll make restitution to the government organizations."

Gosse said Zinck would then get what the government believes he is owed.

Zinck has said he didn't want to lose the money partly because a woman he employs as an assistant at his constituency office would be out of a job with no pay.

But Gosse said that isn't the case because the employee is paid from a separate fund administered by his office.

Gosse said the employee worked for more than two years and would get 12 weeks' pay as a result of the office closure.

Reached by phone, Zinck said he wasn't aware the step had been taken and didn't want to comment. Asked whether he thought the move was fair, Zinck replied: "Absolutely not."

Zinck pleaded guilty Monday in Nova Scotia Supreme Court to breach of trust and fraud over $5,000 related to his expense claims. Three other former politicians also pleaded guilty to fraud-related charges resulting from a 2010 investigation by the province's auditor general into constituency allowance spending.

Zinck's sentencing hearing is scheduled for Aug. 7.