B.C. Liberal MLA Mary Polak (front) has clashed with B.C. legislature speaker Darryl Plecas, who chairs the legislature’s management committee. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, personal expense claims

Clerk Craig James, security chief Gary Lenz call allegations ‘completely false’

B.C. legislature Speaker Darryl Plecas has released a 76-page report on his allegations of financial irregularities that details overseas trips, cash payouts and misuse of “thousands of dollars of alcohol and equipment.”

Plecas convened the Legislative Assembly Management Committee Monday, where members voted to release the report so the public can understand why he arranged the suspension of clerk Craig James and sergeant at arms Gary Lenz, the two senior administrators of the B.C. legislature.

James and Lenz issued a statement late Monday, denying the report and calling its public release without contacting them an effort to “further blacken our reputations.

“We are only now able to read the allegations for the first time and we are confident that time will show that they are completely false and untrue,” the statement says.

Also late in the day, the speaker’s office released a series of “exhibits,” copies of expense claims and other documents to back up the report.

Members of the all-party committee voted to bring in an auditor-general from outside B.C. to review the operations of the legislature, including employee human resources practices. They also voted to ask lawyers representing James and Lenz to respond to the allegations.

“Based on what I had seen and heard, I believed that there was a real possibility that crimes may have been committed, and I felt obligated to bring those matters to the attention of the RCMP,” Plecas wrote in the report.

RELATED: B.C. Legislature officers suspended for police investigation

RELATED: B.C. Liberals call for outside legislature audit, NDP refuses

Allegations include:

• “flagrant overspending on luxurious trips overseas with questionable business rationales”

• “inappropriate payouts of cash in lieu of vacation, which appears to total in the hundreds of thousands of dollars”

• the purchase of a wood splitter, billed to the legislature but delivered to James’ home

Plecas describes his first overseas trip to Britain, soon after he became speaker in the fall of 2017. He said James told him they were to attend several meetings, including one with the MI5 security service.

Plecas said the trip began by checking into the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, “a very expensive hotel across the river from Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament,” where there were several “meet and greet” meetings without substantive business discussed.

The trip included a visit to the store that makes ceremonial robes for the House of Lords, where he ordered a new Speaker’s hat, and Lenz and James ordered suits, including one that cost $1,157 that Plecas said was expensed to the legislature.

The report also describes a split between Lenz and James, where Lenz is said to have suggested to Plecas that James be removed from office for his management practices.

The full report is below.

B.C. NDP house leader Mike Farnworth said he is “shocked” with the report and the documentation supplied with it, and he expects the public will agree.

B.C. Liberal house leader Mary Polak said she supports the idea passed unanimously by the committee, to invite an auditor general from another province to review the state of the B.C. legislature’s $70 million operating budget.

Speaker's Report to LAMC Jan21.19 by Tom Fletcher on Scribd


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pandemic reunites 2000s era Victoria rock band The Origin

Saanich musicians recording for first time since 2008

Local authors nominated for Victoria Book Prize awards

Finalists for 2020 announced in two categories

Patrick brothers who shaped modern hockey also tried, but failed, to remove violence

New history thesis shows efforts to sell a “clean game” in Oak Bay

Central Saanich to formally inform Agricultural Land Commission about soccer pitch proposal

Move is meant for information only with no application having come forward yet

B.C. or Ontario? Residential school survivors fight move of court battle

It’s now up to Ontario’s Court of Appeal to sort out the venue question

POLL: Do you plan on allowing your children to go trick or treating this year?

This popular annual social time will look quite different this year due to COVID-19

B.C. transportation minister will not seek re-election

Claire Trevena has held the position since 2017

Body discovered floating in water near Lasqueti Island

JRCC reports personnel aboard fishing vessel made the find

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Young B.C. cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Most Read