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Auditor general starts year-long audit in Legislature spending scandal

Last audit was done in 2012, issues nothing new

B.C.’s auditor general has begun an audit of the legislature’s administrative processes in light of allegations of lack of spending accountability by the clerk and sergeant-at-arms.

The news came Thursday as auditor general Carol Bellringer released her office’s audit plans as far as 2020.

“We have commenced an audit in this area in light of the issues brought to our attention and the concerns that we previously raised in 2007, 2012 and 2013,” Bellringer said.

After a bombshell report from Speaker Darryl Plecas, Clerk of the Legislature Craig James and Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz face allegations of excessive spending on foreign travel, clothes, expensive trinkets, hats, cufflinks, watches, lavish hotels and a wood splitter.

Bellringer said the audit would proceed under the legislation governing her work but said further guidance could come from the all-party Legislative Assembly Management Committee.

She expected the work would take about a year but would be divided into pieces so there can be public reporting as the work proceeds.

“At this point, we’re doing initial planning to decide exactly what we’re going to look at,” Bellringer said. “It’s going to be very deep.”

The last time the auditor general audited the legislature was in 2012 with then-Auditor General John Doyle presenting the House with a list of needed improvements. Bellringer said that list largely stemmed from a 2007 auditor general report.

She said Jan. 23 issues Plecas brought up “ are things we’ve heard about before.”

Premier John Horgan has suggested changes may be due to provincial privacy legislation to lift the veil of secrecy that currently covers how the legislature operates.

Reporter Jeremy Hainsworth can be contacted at [email protected]