OTTAWA - One of Mike Duffy's first cousins in Prince Edward Island was paid after sending him scanned copies of news articles from the local papers, the suspended senator's trial heard today.David McCabe's testimony kicked off the third week of Duffy's trial on 31 charges of breach of trust, fraud and bribery.A number of the charges relate to a $65,000 contract paid to Duffy's friend Gerald Donohue; some of that money appears to have been apportioned out to other recipients, beyond the scrutiny of Senate officials.McCabe and Duffy's mothers were sisters. He recalled their early interactions."Back in high school, Mike spinned the records so I'd see him at dances and stuff like that," McCabe said via video link from Charlottetown.The court heard that even before Duffy became a senator, McCabe would send Duffy items of interest from the papers, including photos and articles about young relatives and their sports accomplishments.McCabe, a furniture upholsterer by trade, said he also scanned articles about political issues. He said he never expected to be paid for the work.He received a $500 cheque from Donohue's company and told Crown attorney Jason Neubauer that at first he had no idea who it was from or what it was for.Defence lawyer Donald Bayne tried to demonstrate that McCabe provided a legitimate service, even if he only did about approximately half-hour of work per week."By the time of Sen. Duffy's appointment, you had proven yourself as a fella on top of local issues, local commentary, newspaper coverage of those issues, and you had reliably proven to be a good source for Sen. Duffy about those issues?" said Bayne."I would agree with that too, yes," said McCabe.Bayne also tried to underline that Duffy did not derive any financial benefit from the payment sent to his cousin. He raised the fact that Duffy paid for furniture repair work from McCabe with a personal cheque."There was no suggestion or request that any aspect of this $500 that you had received for performing this service be paid back or kicked back to Sen. Duffy?" said Bayne.Said McCabe: "Definitely not."The Senate's 2008 resource guide says that senators may not hire family members to be staff, but the description does not extend to cousins. The Senate's Conflict of Interest Code prohibits senators from furthering the private interests of family members, but it also does not include cousins in the definition.The Crown also examined another Duffy contractor from P.E.I.: Peter McQuaid. The former chief of staff to P.E.I. Premier Pat Binns did speech writing and research for Duffy over three years.Two of those years were covered by formal contracts with the Senate, but during one of those years Duffy had Donohue's firm pay McQuaid $2,881. During that particular year, 2009-10, Duffy received word from Senate finance officials that he had exhausted his budget for such work."Was there ever any discussion why there wasn't a second contract?" asked Crown attorney Mark Holmes."We talked about how we couldn't do it through the Senate, but he'd find another way to do it," McQuaid replied.Bayne has argued previously that Duffy might have committed administrative errors in his contracts, but that they did not constitute criminal activity.
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