By: Mary Agnes Welch
Winnipeg Free Press
Ousted southern grand chief Murray Clearsky says he has receipts and explanations for thousands in questionable travel expenses.
And he says a federal government audit that uncovered $261,000 in problematic expenses paid to senior Southern Chiefs Organization (SCO) officials is part of a politically motivated witch hunt.
"Not once have I ever stolen anything, money or anything," said Clearsky, speaking to reporters today.
The former grand chief, ousted last October during an expense scandal, said he always intended to repay some of the funds, including about $12,000 in truck repairs incurred during trips to Onion Lake and the United States.
Now, unable to find work because of the damage to his reputation, Clearsky says it will be difficult for him to repay any funds.
In a July 25 letter to the SCO, federal auditors laid out the preliminary findings of their audit into the organization's finances. Federal auditors identified $261,587 in questionable payments to Clearsky and former chief of staff Mike Bear for trips to Minneapolis and to Onion Lake, traditional healing services, unearned vacation pay and the misuse of a company debit card.
Southern Grand Chief Terry Nelson said the SCO hopes to explain many of those expenditures. What can't be explained will be repaid by the SCO, he said.