New report alleges 'flagrant overspending' by top BC government officials

Jan 23 2019, 6:57 am

After a criminal investigation was launched following the removal of two top BC government officials from the BC Legislature last November, a new report was released this week by the Speaker of BC’s Legislature Darryl Plecas, which highlights what Plecas calls “flagrant overspending” of the two people involved.

Those two individuals are Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz and legislature clerk Craig James.

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In his report, Plecas writes that in the months after he became speaker, he “learned of a number of allegations, and personally observed or was party to numerous conversations or activities” by the pair which made him “deeply uncomfortable” with their conduct.

Some of that conduct, he said, included:

  • Flagrant overspending on luxurious trips overseas with questionable business rationales
  • Expensing of all manner of personal purchases to the Legislative Assembly, totalling tens of thousands of dollars over a period of less than two years
  • Inappropriate payouts of cash in lieu of vacation, which appear to total in the hundreds of thousands of dollars
  • Lack of oversight or appropriate protocols in the awarding of employment benefits, and evidence of attempts to obtain highly questionable further benefits
  • Using working time to make day or overnight trips away from the Legislative Assembly – at the Legislative Assembly’s expense – for what appears to be other than legitimate work purposes
  • Instances where thousands of dollars of alcohol and equipment may have been misappropriated from the Legislative Assembly
  • Various concerns relating to the management of employees, including potentially retributive or otherwise unjustified terminations
  • Taking steps to conceal information which could indicate improperly claimed expenses

In his report, Plecas notes these are not simply “bare allegations,” but rather, “are based on my personal observations, interviews with others, and where I have been able to corroborate them with reference to documents and records I could access at the Legislative Assembly within the time constraints that I have been working under.”

The Legislative Assembly, he writes, needs to be “accountable, transparent, efficient, fiscally responsible, and fair to its employees.”

As such, “regardless of what happens in the criminal context… the Legislative Assembly needs to review and consider these matters, and determine whether it is more likely than not that conduct has taken place that is inconsistent with the duties of those involved.”

Lenz and James have both denied all the claims made by Plecas and none of the allegations have been proven in court.

The full 76-page report can be viewed here.

Eric ZimmerEric Zimmer

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