The top 10 standout expenses from Darryl Plecas’ report looking into the clerk and sergeant-at-arms
The dust still hasn’t settled on what the fallout will be from the explosive report released on Monday by Speaker Darryl Plecas.
The report lays out over 73 pages of allegations against clerk Craig James and sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz.
LISTEN: Why didn’t the BC Liberals flag the legislature expenses scandal when they were in power?
Plecas’ special adviser Alan Mullen said every British Columbia should read it — the report provides some clarity into why James and Lenz were suspended.
It also explains why two special prosecutors and the RCMP are now looking into the allegations.
WATCH HERE: 76-page report released detailing improprieties at Legislature
The allegations in the report are unproven and both James and Lenz deny any wrongdoing.
“To be clear, at no time over the last weeks or months did Mr. Plecas provide us with information about these allegations or give us any opportunity to respond. He must have deliberately chosen to prepare his report without giving us any chance to respond. We can only ask: ‘Why?’,” read a statement from Lenz and James.
“To be publicly accused of these things after months of secret investigation without being given any chance to respond is contrary to all principles of fairness and decent treatment. It is contrary to how our public institutions should treat people. It is contrary to how the Speaker of the Legislature should act.”
WATCH HERE: What’s next for Clerk of the House Craig James and Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz?
The list below contains some of the most egregious cases of misspent money. The allegations in many cases do not indicate legal wrongdoing but instead paint a picture of misuse of public funds.
The report alleges that both James and Lenz submitted claims for suits from London tailor Ede & Ravenscroft while in England as part of their work “uniforms.”
The charcoal suit and a few other items expensed by James cost the taxpayer $1,327.29. The items expensed by Lenz included an onyx and silver stud set, a mother-of-pearl stud set, mother-of-pearl cufflinks, and a Marcella wing shirt at a total cost of $666.11.
Houses of Parliament shopping spree
Several allegations centered on international travel.
In one trip to the U.K. Houses of Parliament, James spent $524.94 on diaries, notebooks, pens, chocolate bars, mustard, watches and a book, Quotable Churchill, the report said.
It is unclear whether these purchases were for work purposes but the taxpayer did pay for them.
Family limo ride
One transport claim was of “particular note.”
Plecas was on a trip to England with Lenz and James on Aug. 9, 2018. This was while the internal investigation into the two was underway.
Plecas’ said he travelled to Cambridge from Ettington on his own, and at his own expense.
At the same time Lenz, James and their wives travelled from Ettington to York. With four people travelling, the group allegedly chartered a large vehicle from a limousine company for a trip spanning 4.5 hours at a cost of $771.42, which was expensed to the Legislative Assembly.
While in Hong Kong, James purchased a new Victorinox luggage set that appears to have come with free giveaways, including a toiletries bag and a “pouch.”
All of that cost the Legislative Assembly — and, by extension, the public — $1,138.34.
‘No to public transit’
James filed very few claims for public transportation, instead opting to hire a limousine company. The expenses could be legitimate but in a city like London, where public transit is readily available, the list of limo rides seems excessive.
Dec 2, 2017 — Heathrow to Park Plaza Hotel, $317.55
Dec 6, 2017 — Park Plaza Hotel to Heathrow, $301.80
Dec 8, 2017 — Day trip to St. Andrews, $516.00
Dec 10, 2017 — Park Plaza Hotel to Heathrow, $301.80
Feb 5, 2018 — Heathrow to Park Plaza Hotel, $236.13
Feb 9, 2018 — Park Plaza Hotel to Heathrow, $220.06
Aug 6, 2018 — Park Plaza Hotel to Ettington, $941.40
Aug 13, 2018 — Park Plaza Hotel to Heathrow, $202.66
Total — $3,037.40
While James and Plecas were travelling in the United Kingdom, the paired went to St. Andrews, the town known for its famous golf course.
Plecas alleged that James arranged for a vehicle and driver from a limousine company to take the pair to the town where they went to gift shop at the golf course.
James told Plecas it was a “cultural day of learning about Scotland.” The trip from England to Scotland cost $516.00.
High priced subscriptions
Plecas said he has seen receipts for various subscriptions purchased by James and expenses including the following:
- Monthly Apple Music plan
- Yearly iCloud storage plan
- Bicycling magazine
- Arizona Highways magazine
- Palm Springs Life magazine
- Sunset magazine
- History Today
- India Today
- The Economist
- New Scientist
- Electric Bike Action magazine
- The Times of London
- Marine Traffic – Ship Tracking
- Popular Mechanics
For the period reviewed, the digital subscriptions claimed by Mr. James totalled over $5,000, Plecas said.
James claimed $720.47 in digital subscriptions in one month, he added.
James made numerous visits to Vancouver to see Christy Clark after she was defeated in a confidence vote and John Horgan became premier.
It is unclear what the trips were about and whether they were legitimate expenses.
But one concern is that many of the trips were done after Clark left politics.
The four trips included a total of $1,240 in guaranteed loading BC Ferries tickets and more than $700 in claimed vehicle mileage.
LISTEN: Has the speaker of the house been vindicated by his report?
One expense that has drawn plenty of attention was a wood splitter and work/tools trailer purchased by the Legislative Assembly.
According to Plecas the two items never arrived on site and instead were delivered directly to James’ personal residence where he and Lenz have both used it for their own purposes.
The splitter cost $3,200.91 and the trailer was $10,029.60.
Randy Ennis, the now acting Sergeant-at-arms, told Plecas that, in his view there was no legitimate rationale for the Legislative Assembly to have purchased a wood splitter for emergency purposes or otherwise. The report details that the splitter was not at the legislature when the pair were put on leave and that it’s now in the possession of the RCMP.
Truckload of alcohol
This is one of many of the allegations that Plecas said “still warrants investigation.”
Plecas said he has been told that alcohol was apparently left over from a conference or event that James hosted.
The alcohol was placed in a basement vault and later loaded into his truck.
Plecas has asked for receipts relating to the purchase of conference alcohol in the 2012-2013 time period and has received expense claims that show purchases of $8,789.84 were made from BC Liquor Stores or Distribution Branches, but it’s not known whether those are connected to the reports of the alcohol that James allegedly took.
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