The Times Colonist has a damaging story and column on the decision not to reappoint John Doyle as auditor general.
Rob Shaw and Les Leyne reveal that Liberal MLA Eric Foster, the chairman of the committee that turfed Doyle, was cited for spending and conflict concerns in an auditor general’s report in October - “the only MLA singled out.”
The devastating audit identified widespread sloppy management practices of MLA expenses and $63 million in legislature spending.
And it cited the case of $78,000 paid to the landlord for renovations at Foster’s constituency office in 2009.
Doyle raised several issues. First, there was a possible conflict of interest, he found. The rented office was in a building owned by the family of Foster’s constituency assistant. The renovations benefited the family.
Foster took that concern to conflict commissioner Paul Fraser, who cleared him.
The October audit also found the bill for renovations was “"paid without an appropriate level of review for reasonableness and without adequate supporting documentation."
Foster's staff provided only a spreadsheet showing $67,000 in work, without invoices, details or evidence quotes were obtained for the work to get the best price.
The payment also violated policy on renovations in rented offices, which are to be covered only if specified in the lease. The auditor was told Speaker Bill Barisoff ordered the payment to be made.
It seems clear Foster should have quit the committee, given the possible perception that he had an axe to grind with Doyle.
This is where things get bizarre. Foster says he never knew the spending was questioned in the audit. So serious concerns are raised, and no one in government or legislature even bothered to ask him about them. He didn't think the auditor's concern about conflict was significant enough to justify stepping aside
A remarkably sloppy way to treat the public’s money, and handle an important appointment.