Vernon-Monashee MLA denies conflict of interest charges

Vernon-Monashee Eric Foster is denying allegations that he was in a conflict of interest over auditor general John Doyle. - Photo submitted
Vernon-Monashee Eric Foster is denying allegations that he was in a conflict of interest over auditor general John Doyle.
— image credit: Photo submitted

Vernon-Monashee’s MLA claims he’s the target of a smear campaign.

A confidential document from auditor general John Doyle questioning expense documents from Foster has been released. The letter was provided to the VictoriaTimes Colonist just days after a committee chaired by Foster decided not to renew Doyle’s job as watchdog.

“They are doing what ever they can to discredit the findings of the committee,” said Foster of who may have sent the document to the media.

“It’s upsetting when someone attacks your character. I have been honest and forthright.”

Foster categorically denies that Doyle’s focus on his expense documents played a role in Doyle not being retained.

“To suggest I did (voted in a conflict), someone will have to call me a liar. The auditor has never contacted me on this,” he said.

“I didn’t know about the letter so it didn’t influence my decision.”

In August 2011, Doyle’s office wrote a confidential management letter to the legislative assembly management committee (LAMC), which provides oversight on the Legislature’s budget.

The letter stated there wasn’t sufficient documentation for $67,000 in renovations at Foster’s constituency office in Vernon in 2009.

The letter also claims contravention of a policy only covering renovations outlined in a rental lease.

Foster says he signed off on the expenses based on the terms of his lease agreement and the landlord sent the bill to the provincial comptroller for payment.

Approval of the expenses was granted by the speaker’s office.

“I was done as far as I knew,” said Foster.

“I didn’t know this letter existed until I got a call (from the Times Colonist) Tuesday. If the comptroller was unhappy, they shouldn’t have paid the bill. I provided what was given to me.”

Foster is a member of LAMC, but he says he was not on the committee when Doyle's letter was received in August 2011.

Doyle’s office is not commenting on the situation regarding Foster.

“The management letter is confidential. All management letters are confidential,” said Kate James, communications manager for the auditor general.

As for the speaker’s office, it says the issue regarding expense documents has been concluded.

“Financial services did request more information and more information was provided,” said Craig James, clerk of the legislative assembly.

Since then, Foster has agreed to repay the renovation costs until the Legislature's term ends in 2013.

Scott Anderson, Vernon-Monashee Conservative candidate, says he accepts Foster’s explanation regarding the expenses and Doyle’s letter.

“But given his position and given the fact that the letter made the rounds of legislative and B.C. Liberal caucus channels, I’m a little shocked that no other Liberal MLA or staffer saw fit to mention it to him,” said Anderson.



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