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

Fraser Valley Bandits advance to CEBL Championship Game

Bandits post comeback 76-75 win over Hamilton Honey Badgers in Saturday’s semifinal

IHIT on scene of suspicious early-morning fire on rural Mission property

Entrance to Gunn Avenue property cordoned off while investigation takes place, updates coming

Public art budgets could be used for gardens, Abbotsford councillor suggests

‘Gardens really are art,’ Coun. Brenda Falk says

SLIDESHOW: Chilliwack firefighters battle large blaze at Rosedale chicken barn Friday

Majority of birds saved but buildings on Castleman Road destroyed by fire

Plainclothes Abbotsford police officer deletes cellphone video after drawing gun on innocent man

‘They never asked me what I was doing there, strictly came out with guns, threatening to shoot me’

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

FURTHER UPDATE: Body removed from Maple Ridge hotel after large police presence

A large contingent of Mounties were at the Art Infiniti Hotel Friday afternoon and evening

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Most Read