Contrary to his claim in an interview with The Times on Monday, Mayor Rick Green was made aware of an RCMP investigation surrounding his conduct.
He said that he considers a Jan. 7 phone call to him from Supt. Derek Cooke, in which the officer in charge of the Langley RCMP detachment explained the nature of the investigation, “third hand” information.
Green insists that “I’ve not heard officially” what the probe is about.
The RCMP’s Surrey-based Commercial Crime unit will not confirm or deny that an investigation is probing Green for an alleged breach of the Privacy Act and the Community Charter.
However, Supt. Derek Cooke confirmed on Wednesday (Jan. 26) that he told Green in a phone call on Jan. 7 that Commercial Crime was conducting an investigation.
“He was provided with a general overview of the nature of the investigation and the name of the primary investigator,” said Cooke, officer in charge of the Langley RCMP.
Cooke explained that the detachment received a complaint “several months ago” regarding possible offences contrary to the Privacy Act and Community Charter.
“As is often done with complaints of a political nature, the file was immediately passed on to E Division Commercial Crime Section for investigation.” Cooke added.
On Monday, several councillors revealed that they had been advised by RCMP that police were investigating possible breaches of the Privacy Act and Community Charter.
“Members of council were contacted by police over the last few weeks regarding an investigation into the actions of the mayor,” Councillor Jordan Bateman said during a break between Monday’s council meetings.
“The RCMP told me that they are investigating a breach of the Privacy Act and Community Charter rules regarding the release of confidential information from in-camera, by the mayor,” Bateman said, calling it “a serious investigation.”
As councillors were being interviewed on the matter by a GlobalBC reporter on Monday, Green said in an interview with The Times: “I can tell you that I have not been contacted by the RCMP.”
He added: “I have heard second and third hand that a complaint was issued to the RCMP about my release of information in my press release regarding Brownshak.”
He said he had done nothing wrong, and that “Everything I did was done following legal opinion.”
A second indication that Green was aware of the probe is contained in a Jan. 7 e-mail, obtained by The Times, in which Commercial Crime investigator Cpl. Chuck Kolot tells Township councillors: “Just to keep you up to date, I sent e-mails yesterday to your colleagues requesting that they contact me so that I can get some sort of statement from each of them, if possible.
“I have not contacted the Mayor yet but I understand that Supt. Derek Cooke, of Langley Detachment, will probably be letting Mayor Green know about the investigation very soon.”
On Wednesday, Green said that he considers Cooke’s phone call to him “third hand, because I have not been officially contacted by anyone doing it. In other words, I have not been contacted by anyone doing the investigation.”
He said he has received nothing in writing “and nothing official.”
The investigation surrounds Green’s public statement on Sept. 14, 2010, made the day after he was publicly censured by council over his conduct.
He had told council in a closed-door session in 2009 that he had received an anonymous letter and copies of corporate records relating to Brownshak.
He claimed that these documents might support allegations of improper conduct of Brownshak and its principals, who were the wives of realtors Joel Schacter and Bob Bailey, and of MLA Rich Coleman and Township administrator Mark Bakken.
Brownshak was a limited company, and its only purchase was an Aldergrove townhouse. The principals relinquished their assets in 2003.
The allegations were found to be groundless.
At the Sept. 14 press conference, Green admitted that he had misled council at the emergency special closed door meeting which he had called on Oct. 29, 2009. He had wanted council to consider information he claimed he had received only the previous day, in that anonymous letter.
As it happens, he had known about the Brownshak documents since August, 2009.
According to a Township press release dated Sept. 13, 2010, Green apologized to council at closed meetings on both May 17 and June 14, 2010, for calling the meeting under the premise that he had just learned of the Brownshak issue.
His apology followed an investigation of the whole matter by Lidstone and Company, which concluded that he had misled council and had prior knowledge of Brownshak. That investigation cost $69,000.