Speaker’s office ‘did our homework’ on legislature investigation says special advisor Alan Mullen
The Speaker of the Legislative Assembly’s office is defending itself over questions that Speaker Darryl Plecas overstepped his authority and that the Plecas Report could jeopardize potential criminal charges.
Speaking on Focus BC, Plecas’ chief of staff and former special advisor Alan Mullen said the homework was done before releasing the bombshell report.
“We don’t want to be throwing any dirt on anyone until we were completely sure. That is why we released a binder of supporting documents,” Mullen said.
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The Plecas report was released online Monday along with documentation supporting many of the allegations made in the report.
One of the highest-priced items detailed in the report was a $257,000 retirement allowance that clerk Craig James allegedly received in 2012.
Mullen says that payout stands out to him as the most egregious in the report.
“The individual who received it didn’t retire. It is so unexplainable to me,” Mullen said. “How does that happen?”
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James and sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz are now on administrative leave with pay.
They deny all the allegations in the report. The Legislative Assembly Management Committee (LAMC) must now decide whether to let the two men come back to work, continue their paid leave, change their leave to unpaid or terminate them.
Mullen says he is expecting a public update from the RCMP in February or March about the ongoing investigation. There are also two special prosecutors looking into allegations that go beyond what is in the report.
“I don’t know of a case in Canadian history that have had two special prosecutors assigned,” Mullen said. “I am confident in the information I gathered. I am confident in the information I have handed over to police.”
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There are also questions about whether the allegations will lead to criminal charges or whether they were just an abuse of a system that has very few rules.
Mullen says he believes there is “enough to have a conversation” about charges but concedes that this could have either been “grossly inappropriate” behaviour or just “against policy and procedure.”
The goal is for the LAMC to set terms of an internal, forensic audit soon. When Mullen was asked, he didn’t have a timeline on when that audit will be completed.
“I’m also cognizant of how much it is going to cost, how long it is going to take,” Mullen said. “We want to change the culture here. We need to fix it by being 100 per cent open.”
There is also the issue of workplace conduct.
The LAMC is also conducting a full review of the legislature as a workplace after allegations surfaced in the report that 16 individuals were terminated for allegedly raising concerns about potential inappropriate spending.
“I think that may actually turn out to be one of the biggest items here in terms of the culture at the legislature,” Mullen said.
“Some employees are alleging they were terminated for simply asking questions. That is not OK.”
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