The roller coaster ride at the B.C. legislature involving two senior staff being put on administrative leave took another turn on Wednesday.
The B.C. Speaker’s office says it has been investigating the actions of clerk Craig James and sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz since January, but still won’t provide any details about what they are alleged to have done wrong.
Alan Mullen was brought in to be the Speaker’s special adviser in January to help deal with this case.
“There was just regular concerns about a whole lot of things, including this,” said Mullen.
“As the months went on we gathered more information and we passed it off and that is where we are at now. We are not making any further comment on that.”
The concerns originated from the Speaker’s office and Speaker Darryl Plecas, along with Mullen, turned over what they had found to the RCMP in August.
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When asked why the motion was made on Tuesday to put the two long-time public servants on leave, Mullen said the speaker felt he had enough information to do so.
“The information the speaker had, he felt it was pertinent to present to the house leaders just this past week,” said Mullen.
“As everyone knows with these two appointed officers you just go to them and give them the heads up because there has to be a vote on the floor.”
Two special prosecutors have been working on this case since October, but according to the Speaker’s office none of this was passed on to the Liberals, NDP or Green MLAs until Monday.
The RCMP has also appointed an investigative team to handle the file, and they have access “to any subject matter experts as the investigation progresses.”
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There are still no details about what branch of the RCMP is investigating or why the Speaker’s office started to investigate Lenz and James.
“The RCMP takes our responsibilities around the integrity of any of our investigations very seriously — whether you are a complainant, witness or subject.
reads a statement from RCMP spokesperson Janelle Shoihet.
“We take into consideration and work to find the balance between public safety, legislation, privacy, and legal processes when making comments around any on-going investigation.
“We also appreciate that what some may perceive as us being ‘limited’ with respect to details or specifics during an on-going investigation is often due to the importance of allowing all investigational processes to take place.”
Integrity BC’s Dermod Travis says James and Lenz should never have been escorted out of the legislature by police, with cameras following their every move.
“We are still not hearing what this is fundamentally about.”
There are also questions about who the person speaking on behalf of the Speaker is. Mullen was hired in January, and he described himself as a friend of Plecas.
WATCH: (Aired Nov. 20) Clerk of the house Craig James escorted from B.C. Legislature
The two of them worked together at the Kent Institution, where Plecas was a prosecutor and Mullen was an administrative prosecutor.
“I am not going to get into previous investigations I have conducted. But all I am going to say is I have been involved in internal investigations for the Correctional Service of Canada among others,” Mullen said.
The clerk of the house is the chief permanent officer of the legislative assembly who reports to the Speaker. In addition to procedural responsibilities, the clerk is also responsible for the overall direction and administration of the legislative assembly.
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James has been working at the legislature for more than 30 years.
The sergeant-at-arms is a permanent officer of the house, responsible for the security of the parliament buildings and legislative grounds to ensure the house, its committees and members are able to conduct their business without disturbance or interruption.
House leader Mike Farnworth would not say much about the way this investigation has unfolded.
“There is an ongoing investigation and I am not able to comment,” he said.
“I know that is frustrating. I have been advised that I am not allowed to comment on that.”