B.C.’s suspended sergeant-at-arms has retired from his position effective today.
The announcement, which was released late Tuesday by Speaker Darryl Plecas, comes nearly a year after he was escorted from the legislature amidst allegations of questionable spending.
Lenz has been on paid administrative leave ever since he and then-clerk Craig James were escorted from the legislature by police in November 2018. James stepped down from his position in May.
The two men have spent the months since November under a cloud of suspicion as a series of investigations have looked into allegations of misconduct and overspending. Both Lenz and James have denied any wrongdoing.
On Tuesday evening, Gary Lenz also released a statement, announcing he had handed in his resignation.
“It has been a privilege to serve the people of British Columbia in that capacity since 2009,” Lenz said in the statement.
“I have carried out my duties for the people of British Columbia with the utmost integrity and am proud of the many initiatives that have been put in place during my time as Sergeant-at-Arms. However, I no longer believe that I can continue to work for the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. After considerable reflection, I have concluded that the damage that has been done to my reputation will never be fully repaired, and that if I continued as Sergeant at Arms, I would be doing a disservice to my office.”
Lenz also said he has served his office with loyalty and integrity and have co-operated with every request since being removed from office last November.
‘I am thankful for the many people who have supported me through this difficult time and for the opportunity to serve as the British Columbia Legislature’s Sergeant-at-Arms for the past ten years,” Lenz said.
In May, former Supreme Court of Canada chief justice Beverley McLachlin released an explosive report that showed multiple examples of misconduct by James, including buying expensive suits and luggage for personal use and the improper acceptance of a $257,988 payout from a retirement benefit program.
McLachlin’s report found that Lenz’s behaviour did not constitute misconduct.
And in September, British Columbia’s auditor general Carol Bellringer said the province’s legislature must set higher standards for expense reporting by top administrative officials following allegations of spending abuses made by Speaker Darryl Plecas.
Bellringer said an audit found weaknesses and gaps in expense policies in the offices of the legislature’s clerk, sergeant-at-arms and Speaker.
The Legislative Assembly of British Columbia will appoint a successor to Lenz’s position.
With files from CBC and The Canadian Press