'Flagrant overspending'

UPDATE: 5:10 p.m.

Speaker Darryl Plecas' report alleges overspending on luxury trips overseas with questionable business rationales; expensing of personal purchases to the legislature in the tens of thousands of dollars; inappropriate payouts of cash in lieu of vacation in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and instances where thousands of dollars of alcohol and equipment may have been misappropriated from the legislative assembly.

"These matters are not simply bare allegations," Plecas says in the report, adding they were based on his personal observations and interviews with others.

Plecas said regardless of what happens in the criminal context, the legislature needs to review and consider the matters to determine if the conduct is inconsistent with the duties of those involved.

"British Columbia taxpayers deserve a legislative assembly that is accountable, transparent, efficient, fiscally responsible, and fair to its employees."

UPDATE: 4:15 p.m.

A report released by the Speaker of the B.C. legislature alleges the clerk and sergeant-at-arms engaged in flagrant overspending, questionable expenses and inappropriate payouts of cash "in the range of a million dollars."

The 76-page report from Speaker Darryl Plecas says based on what he has seen and heard, he believed that there was a real possibility that crimes may have been committed and he felt obligated to bring those matters to the RCMP.

Sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz and clerk of the house Craig James were suspended and escorted out of the legislature in November without any explanation.

The RCMP later said it was investigating allegations against the men and that two special prosecutors had been appointed to assist in the investigation.

An all-party legislature committee voted to release the report today and agreed to launch an audit of legislature financial issues, conduct a workplace review and submit that report to an auditor from outside of B.C.

ORIGINAL: 1:50 p.m.

B.C. Speaker Darryl Plecas says he has handed over a report to members of an all-party committee outlining allegations that set off an RCMP investigation against the two top officials of the provincial legislature.

Plecas says the 76-page report outlines his concerns and prompted the suspensions of sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz and clerk of the legislature Craig James in November, pending a criminal investigation.

Plecas says the report should be made public, but he first wants the eight members of the Legislative Assembly Management Committee to discuss it privately.

Before the committee meeting was taken in camera, Plecas said there are two legal opinions connected to the report.

Liberal committee members Mary Polak and Jackie Tegart opposed closing the doors, saying the report could be discussed publicly without impacting an ongoing police investigation.

When the same committee met last December, Plecas said he would resign his position as Speaker if the public is not outraged over his findings of unspecified allegations at the legislature.

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