Whistleblower alleges legislature expense issues beyond clerk and sergeant-at-arms
The man identified as an anonymous whistleblower in the speaker Darryl Plecas’ report into alleged misconduct by the clerk and sergeant-at-arms in B.C.’s legislature says the matter of questionable expenses goes beyond the two accused senior staff members.
Speaking exclusively to Global News, Connor Gibson — identified only as ‘AB’ in the Plecas report — says he was asked by Liberal MLA Linda Reid to file what he describes as an inappropriate expense.
The allegations were also detailed in Plecas’ report, which centres around allegations of overspending and lack of oversight by clerk Craig James and sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz.
“I was told just to process them, they were around filing taxi and mileage on the same day which is not quite possible,” Gibson said. “In terms of the claims I am concerned about, the value is very small but to me the amount doesn’t matter. It’s about doing the right thing.”
Reid was not available on Tuesday to respond to the allegations. The longtime MLA served as speaker in the B.C. legislature from 2013 to 2017.
Gibson said the reason he is speaking out is because he thinks Reid should resign.
“I think that for many years there have been issues raised about her expenses. Knowing what I know about her expenses I think she should resign,” Gibson said.
Gibson says he met Plecas’ special adviser Alan Mullen and raised his concerns with him about the expenses.
The whistleblower worked for various MLAs starting in February, 2018 and was not kept on when the legislative session ended in May 2018.
Over time, Gibson advised Mr. Mullen that he believed one of the MLAs was requiring him to submit improper expense claims.
“AB had raised the claims of the MLA’s which he believed were improper with that MLA, and was told to submit them anyway,” reads the report. “Without telling Mr. Lenz AB’s name, Mr. Mullen mentioned to Mr. Lenz that a witness had reported some improprieties in the recording of MLA expenses.”
WATCH: Fallout from 2 top BC legislature officials accused of flagrant and improper personal expense and travel claims
Lenz and now-acting sergeant-at-arms Randy Ennis met with Gibson. As the report details “Mr. Lenz remarked that he thought a forensic audit was needed as there was ‘RPG’ (which is police jargon for ‘reasonable and probable grounds’).”
In the end Lenz and Ennis concluded there were “one or two” claims of taxis and mileage at the same time “but the rest were explainable.”
“I felt the whole matter was troubling,” Plecas wrote.
“As to the substance of the complaint, the Executive Financial Officer told me that she reviewed the matter, and agreed that there was cause for concern, which she proposed to deal with by speaking to the MLA informally.”
WATCH: Digging deep into the Plecas report on alleged financial mismanagement at the B.C. Legislature
The story is just part of a larger picture of a lack of accountability when it comes to expenses at the B.C. legislature. One of the big questions is how senior officers of the legislature could be able to get their expenses approved.
“If anybody at any level puts in expenses they need to be signed off on, what we would find is Mr. James would sign Mr. Lenz’ and then vice versa.” Mullen said on Tuesday.
“In the grand scheme of things this may be a hand grenade and the bomb is yet to come.”
Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver says the B.C. legislature need a complete overhaul on how expenses are dealt with. According to Weaver years of intimidation and entitlement led to serious questions about millions of dollars of public money allegedly being misspent.
“These do not happen in a vacuum, they are enabled by a culture of entitlement,” Weaver said. “These efforts were able to go for long periods of time with the documented effort to conceal.”
NDP MLA Garry Begg says his government is promising changes to the way expenses are dealt with for senior legislature officials.
“Our government is committed to ensuring that this won’t happen again. As for a timeline, my expectation is that there will be a change in the culture immediately,” Begg said.
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