POLITICS
01/21/2019 20:37 EST | Updated 01/21/2019 20:37 EST

B.C. Officials Gary Lenz, Craig James Engaged In Gross Overspending: Speaker's Report

The legislature's clerk and sergeant-at-arms were suspended in November without any explanation.

Chad Hipolito/CP
House Speaker Darryl Plecas speaks with Kate Ryan-Lloyd acting clerk of the house during a Legislative Assembly Management Committee at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Jan. 21, 2019.

VICTORIA — The Speaker of the British Columbia legislature alleges the clerk and sergeant-at-arms engaged in flagrant overspending, questionable expenses and inappropriate payouts of cash "in the range of a million dollars."

Darryl Plecas says in a 76-page report released Monday that based on what he had seen and heard, he believed there was a real possibility crimes may have been committed and he felt obligated to contact the RCMP.

Sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz and clerk of the house Craig James were suspended and escorted out of the legislature in November without any explanation.

The report alleges overspending on luxury trips overseas with questionable business rationales; expensing of personal purchases to the legislature in the tens of thousands of dollars; inappropriate payouts of cash in lieu of vacation in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and instances where thousands of dollars of alcohol and equipment may have been misappropriated from the legislative assembly.

"These matters are not simply bare allegations," Plecas says in the report, adding they were based on his personal observations and interviews with others.

The RCMP later said it was investigating allegations against the men and that two special prosecutors had been appointed to assist in the investigation.

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An all-party legislature committee voted to release the report Monday and agreed to launch an audit of legislature financial issues, conduct a workplace review and submit that report to an auditor from outside of B.C.

Plecas said regardless of what happens in the criminal context, the legislature needs to review and consider the matters to determine if the conduct is inconsistent with the duties of those involved.

"British Columbia taxpayers deserve a legislative assembly that is accountable, transparent, efficient, fiscally responsible, and fair to its employees."

The report says the concerns in releasing the information involve whether making the allegations public would be unfair to the employees or problematic for the police investigation.

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