Exclusive: Elected official under RCMP investigation regarding legislature spending scandal
Published Tuesday, December 22, 2020 5:00PM PST Last Updated Tuesday, December 22, 2020 8:13PM PST
VANCOUVER -- Just days after the former clerk of the B.C. legislature was criminally charged, CTV News has learned a police investigation continues into an elected official relating to the legislature spending scandal.
The information came to light during an exclusive interview with former Speaker Darryl Plecas and his chief of staff Alan Mullen. They wouldn’t name the MLA under investigation, or confirm if they’re a current or former member, but said the probe is linked to allegations of fraud.
“It isn’t just that there was an allegation of fraud by an elected official," Plecas added. "What happened in reaction to that by a number of people there? There is no other explanation in our minds (than) that they moved heaven and earth to stop that investigation from going forward.”
Plecas also told CTV News the ongoing police investigation involves a handful of current and former legislature staff.
The RCMP would not confirm details about the case, but did issue a statement saying the investigation is ongoing.
“While charges have been laid against one individual, the investigation is not yet concluded and there are additional tasks still to be undertaken,” RCMP Staff Sgt. Janelle Shoihet wrote in an email. “We are not in a position to confirm the nature or scope of the investigation or the identity(s) of those involved. “
Mullen said the fraud allegations against the MLA were brought forward in February 2018 by a whistleblower, who was aware that he and Plecas were investigating misspending at the legislature.
The informant, who was a political staffer employed by a party and not an employee of the legislature, was then fired in May 2018, according to Mullen. He claims the party the whistleblower worked for found out they were talking to the Speaker’s office.
“What happened to that whistleblower? Exactly what happens to every other person who comes forward and says look there’s something wrong here, it needs to be looked at. The person got fired,” said Plecas.
In June 2018, Mullen said he brought the information about the allegations and the firing to then Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz.
“The sergeant-at-arms and the deputy sergeant-at-arms of the day met with this whistleblower and myself and did a very long interview with this whistleblower and started an investigation,” Mullen said. “An hour and a half after that investigation started they advised me that there was nothing there and it was done.”
“There is zero chance you conclude, start and conclude, an investigation in an hour and a half. That is utter rubbish,” Mullen added.
Efforts to reach Lenz on Tuesday were unsuccessful. He has since resigned from his position. Lenz has not been charged by the RCMP.
While neither Plecas nor Mullen would say more about the elected official under investigation, the set of circumstances they described to CTV News match exactly to details in Plecas’ original report from January 2019, which indicate the MLA is, or was, a member of the BC Liberals.
In the report, the whistleblower was described as a Legislative Assistant who “worked for several MLAs in the Official Opposition,” which at the time was the BC Liberals.
In an email statement, a spokesperson for the BC Liberal caucus said: "I can confirm that we are not aware of any current BC Liberal MLAs who are under investigation by the RCMP. To our knowledge, neither are any former."
When asked if he thought the elected official under investigation by the RCMP should face charges, Plecas said, “Absolutely.”
“Will I be happy if that leads to charges? Absolutely,” said Plecas. “Not because we want to see people charged, because we want to see the point made that it deserved investigation.”