Suspended legislature officers get extra week to respond to overspending allegations

Craig James, Clerk of the B.C. legislature (left) and Gary Lenz, the B.C. legislature's sergeant-at-arms | Times Colonist

Two senior officers of the B.C. legislature, on suspension pending a criminal investigation, have another week to respond to the explosive allegations of “flagrant overspending” outlined by Speaker Darryl Plecas last week.

Clerk of the house Craig James and sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz were originally given a deadline of Feb. 1 to provide a written response to Plecas’s 76-page report, which details luxury trips overseas and questionable items expensed to the legislature, including a $13,000 wood splitter and work trailer allegedly delivered to James’s home.

Instead, Lenz and James will have until 4 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 7 to provide a written response to the house leaders Mike Farnworth, Mary Polak and Sonia Furstenau.

The Legislative Assembly Management Committee, which overseas the legislature’s finances, has also committed to drafting the terms of reference for an independent audit to be conducted on the offices of the legislature. No timeline has been set for that audit.

James and Lenz have been suspended with pay since Nov. 20, when they were marched out of the legislature under police escort amid a criminal investigation. The pair have denied all wrongdoing and vowed that a thorough investigation will prove their innocence.

The speaker’s chief of staff, Alan Mullen, has said the criminal investigation will explore allegations that are not contained in Plecas’s report.

The report also alleges that several legislative staff were fired for blowing the whistle on questionable expenses.

James and Lenz remain suspended with pay. James is paid an annual salary of $347,090 while Lenz earns $218,167.

Times Colonist