Pair suspended from legislature say they do not know of any allegations

Nearly a week after they were escorted from the legislature by police, legislative clerk Craig James and sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz said they remain in the dark as to the allegations surrounding their suspensions but are confident an RCMP investigation will clear them of wrongdoing. Both men are asking to be reinstated to their positions.

At a Monday press conference at the Vancouver office of their lawyer, James and Lenz said they haven’t been interviewed by the RCMP or given information about the criminal investigation that has created turmoil at the B.C. legislature.

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“At this point, we don’t even know what the allegations are or what they’re about, we’re completely in the dark,” Lenz said.

James said the secrecy has left him in the “position of not being able to respond because no one has told me what the allegations are or asked me for my side of the story.”

“I have been removed without explanation, escorted out of the building in which I have worked for over 30 years, by police officers,” James said. “Gary and I have been deeply humiliated.”

Lenz said he’s “deeply troubled” by the way the situation unfolded last week. He described the panic his daughter felt when someone sent her a message that said “sorry to hear about your dad, my prayers are with you” before she had any idea what was going on.

Both men are asking to be reinstated to their positions while the investigation unfolds. They said they would fully co-operate with the RCMP’s independent investigation. Both said they are confident the investigation will clear them of wrongdoing.

“Although it’s impossible to deny what you do not know, I can firmly say I have done nothing wrong and I am confident an independent investigation now underway by the RCMP will clear me of any alleged wrongdoing,” Lenz said.

“The damage to my reputation is irreparable,” James said. “The healing can only begin with my return to work. These are very important positions in British Columbia, and all we want to do is get back to work.”

Lenz, the former head of Sidney/North Saanich RCMP, is in charge of security at the B.C. legislature. Last year, Lenz was paid a salary of $218,167 and claimed $23,606 in expenses.

Lenz oversaw security overhauls at the B.C. legislature, including the arming of guards and enhanced screening devices in the aftermath of the 2014 attack on the parliament buildings in Ottawa.

James holds a role that’s akin to the chief administrative officer for the legislature. He has been clerk since 2011 and has a lifetime appointment to the position.

He is responsible for the legislature’s $70-million annual budget and procedural matters. Last year, he was paid a salary of $347,090 and claimed $51,649 in expenses.

James outlined the “bullet-proof” financial oversight measures he’s put in place since 2011, including hiring a former auditor general and former comptroller general to sit on a financial audit committee.

James has previously been scrutinized for his use of taxpayer dollars. In 2012, Integrity B.C. released documents showing James claimed $43,295 in travel expenses between August 2010 and December 2010, when he was acting chief electoral officer.

On Monday, James said his travel expenses are reviewed by several financial experts including the executive financial officer and the director of financial services.

The men are being represented by lawyer Mark D. Andrews. Two special prosecutors, David Butcher and Brock Martland, have been appointed, but no charges have been laid.

The RCMP have released few details on the investigation, other than to say it concerns the pair’s “administrative duties.”

kderosa@timescolonist.com

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