Darryl Plecas report on legislature expenses turns spotlight on assistant deputy speaker Linda Reid
Last night on Global News B.C., reporter Richard Zussman interviewed a B.C. Liberal whistleblower. And it's shone attention on the activities of the former legislature speaker, Linda Reid.
A former legislative assistant, Connor Gibson, claimed to Zussman that he was told to process what he felt were "inappropriate expenses" by Reid even after he brought them to her attention.
According to Gibson, this involved filing expense forms for mileage and taxi fares on the same day.
Gibson told Zussman that he thinks Reid, the B.C. Liberal MLA for Richmond South Centre, should resign; she didn't make herself available to Global B.C. respond to Gibson's comments.
Reid is B.C.'s longest-serving member of the legislature, having first been elected in 1991.
Last September, she was named assistant deputy speaker, providing a $37,058.65 top-up to her annual MLA salary of $105,881.83.
Gibson volunteered to Zussman that he's source identified as "AB" in a 76-page bombshell report by Speaker Darryl Plecas.
According to the report, "AB" said he was dismissed on May 31 for "budget concerns", but claimed that his position was quickly filled.
"AB believed he was fired for refusing to do something that he thought was unethical, and he was upset about that,” Plecas wrote.
The report went on to state that "AB" wrote to Plecas on June 18, 2018.
In that letter, "AB" stated that he had been told "his concerns had been investigated and were not substantiated".
"AB had questioned how that could be the case since AB had submitted the expense claims," Plecas continued. "AB said he did not receive answers that made any sense."
In the report, Plecas revealed that the sergeant-at-arms, Gary Lenz, and the deputy sergeant-at-arms, Randy Ennis, met his aide, Alan Mullen, on June 13, 2018, to discuss the allegations by "AB".
Hours later, Plecas reported, Lenz phoned Mullen to say that he had pulled the expense claims and concluded that there was nothing there.
"Mr. Mullen asked if there were any claims for mileage and taxi fares for the same trip, and Mr. Lenz replied that there were 'one or two, but the rest were explainable'," Plecas wrote.
At the time, Plecas was in China with the clerk of the legislature, Craig James.
Over breakfast, according to Plecas, James told him that he had spoken with the deputy clerk (now acting clerk) of the legislature, Kate Ryan-Lloyd.
Plecas alleged that James mentioned that he had "told her to rein Gary in and put a stop to this, otherwise we will all wear it."
James and Lenz have insisted that they are innocent of any wrongdoing and have publicly objected to not being given a chance to respond to the allegations in the report before they were released.
They were placed on administrative leave with pay on November 20. The RCMP is conducting an investigation into issues brought to their attention by Mullen.
Plecas's report also stated that on June 20, 2018, James met former attorney general Geoff Plant, who was a B.C. Liberal MLA from 1996 to 2005.
The report quoted the deputy clerk saying that the meeting was about reining in Lenz to "ensure he wouldn't be conducting investigations in the future".
This allegation has not been substantiated by those at the meeting. There's been no comment from Plant or James to confirm that this was actually the topic of their discussion.
"I have since seen a travel expense form submitted by Mr. James in which he claimed for at trip to Vancouver on June 20 to meet with Geoff Plant and Paul Barbeau, and paid for a lunch at the Marriot [sic] that he later expensed to the Legislative Assembly," Plecas wrote.
Barbeau is Andrew Wilkinson's representative on the B.C. Liberal party executive.
In 2016, Gibson was one of three who unsuccessfully ran for the B.C. Liberal nomination in Courtenay-Comox, losing to Jim Benninger.
The seat was narrowly captured by the NDP's Ronna-Rae Leonard in the 2017 election, enabling NDP Leader John Horgan to become premier with the support of three B.C. Green MLAs.More