B.C. Speaker to challenge suspended officials' explanations for 'flagrant' overspending
Darryl Plecas will reveal latest report to legislative committee Thursday
The Speaker of British Columbia's legislature is expected to table another lengthy report Thursday addressing the alleged misuse of taxpayer money by top government officials.
The second report from Darryl Plecas is still just the 'tip of the iceberg' as the investigation into the parliamentary spending scandal continues, says Alan Mullen, who was hired by Plecas as a special advisor.
Plecas' latest report is expected to poke holes in recent denials made by Clerk of the House Craig James and Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz, who Plecas has accused of 'fraudulent and flagrant' overspending.
The Speaker first made those accusations in a 76-page bombshell report released Jan. 21. James and Lenz then provided written defences justifying their purchases of — among other things — expensive clothing, magazine subscriptions and a $3,200 wood-splitter.
Defences don't stand up
Mullen said Plecas' new report, to be presented to the Legislative Assembly Management Committee (LAMC) Thursday afternoon, will dispute James' and Lenz's defences.
According to Mullen, their defences do not stand up against the evidence the Speaker has amassed, which includes a big binder of documents that supported his first report.
If the Speaker has his way, says Mullen, his second report will be made public as was his first, but it is up to the LAMC to decide.
The LAMC could also make recommendations Thursday on the fate of James and Lenz, who are currently suspended with pay. Mullen said the LAMC could recommend continuing the suspension with or without pay, terminating their employment, or bringing them back to work.
Mullen also said former legislature employees who witnessed wrongdoing — possibly by elected MLAs — are coming to the Speaker to share their concerns, and as more information becomes apparent, it will be released.
"The ultimate goal is not to embarrass anybody...it's to make this place better," said Mullen.
The RCMP is investigating the allegations against James and Lenz. Two special prosecutors have been appointed to assist in the case.
With files from Tanya Fletcher