Gary Lenz, the suspended Sergeant-at-Arms at the B.C. Legislature, has retired from his position effective immediately.
Speaker Darryl Plecas announced the retirement in a short statement issued late Tuesday afternoon. Mr. Lenz said that it is with “sincere regret” that he retires from the position that he has held for 10 years.
Mr. Lenz, along with then-clerk of the House Craig James, was placed on administrative leave with pay last November after Mr. Plecas reported allegations of improper spending to the RCMP. In total, the two are accused of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on travel, gifts and other inappropriate benefits over a period of 18 months.
An external review by former Supreme Court of Canada chief justice Beverley McLachlin concluded that Mr. James engaged in misconduct but Mr. Lenz did not. Mr. James retired after the release of that report in May, but Mr. Lenz remained suspended.
“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,” Mr. Lenz said in a statement.
“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.”
News of Mr. Lenz’s retirement comes shortly before the expected release of another investigation into spending allegations against him, this one by Doug LePard, a former chief of the Metro Vancouver Transit Police and deputy chief of Vancouver Police.
Alan Mullen, special adviser to Mr. Plecas, called the timing of the retirement “interesting.”
“After the McLachlin report, which the Speaker and I were somewhat critical about, Mr. Lenz felt vindicated. Mr. Lenz sort of sat in his back garden and said he was looking forward to coming back,” Mr. Mullen said Tuesday.
“Then today, we see that he has retired. It’s interesting. That’s not good or bad, or right or wrong. I’m just saying it certainly is interesting, and there is probably more to the story that will probably come out in coming weeks.”
Mr. Mullen said he and the Speaker stand by everything they have said and done, and “we will keep on going until we are totally transparent and there is accountability.”
B.C.'s Auditor-General also released a report into the spending allegations in September, finding “a number of weaknesses and gaps” in spending oversight for top officers at the Legislature that allowed for hundreds of thousands of dollars in questionable expenses to go unchecked.
Carol Bellringer emphasized that her review was not a financial audit but an effort to inform the legislative assembly on its financial processes and practices. She stopped short of ruling on any instance of fraud.
The legislative assembly will now undertake steps to appoint a successor to Mr. Lenz.