Heat on MLA Fildebrandt
The president of Derek Fildebrandt’s constituency association is defending the United Conservative Party MLA in a controversy over his renting out of his taxpayersubsidized accommodation in Edmonton.
Postmedia revealed this week the Strathmore-Brooks MLA had rented out his Edmonton apartment — for which he receives a provincial allowance — on Airbnb between January and March.
Fildebrandt — first elected under the Wildrose banner in 2015 — has angrily denied any wrongdoing, but on Thursday announced he would donate the rental income toward lowering the provincial debt.
Ronda Klemmensen, president of the Strathmore-Brooks Wildrose constituency association, said she and others in the riding stand by their MLA.
“From my standpoint and the people that I have been talking to about it, it absolutely isn’t an issue,” she said in an interview.
“He’s being smart with the money.”
Klemmensen, who will serve on the new interim UCP board in Strathmore-Brooks, echoed Fildebrandt that the apartment issue was only raised due to the politics of the fledgling party’s leadership race. Fildebrandt, who was harshly critical of candidate Brian Jean when he announced Tuesday that he would not run for the UCP leadership, has blamed the former Wildrose leader’s camp for the story.
Members of the legislative assembly from outside the capital region are allowed to claim a maximum of $23,160 in a fiscal year to own or lease a property in Edmonton, or $193 per night for a hotel while in the city on official business.
That cash can go toward accommodation expenses like rent, utilities and parking, but the rules explicitly state that MLAs are only entitled to the actual costs incurred.
Klemmensen said Fildebrandt acted properly under legislature rules and made no secret of his apartment rental.
The campaign of UCP leadership candidate Jason Kenney, who has strongly praised Fildebrandt, said Thursday that he had done the right thing by returning the money.
“Even if the Legislative Assembly rules are silent on this matter, it goes against the spirit of MLA allowances for housing,” the campaign said in a statement provided by Kenney spokesman Blaise Boehmer.
Derek Fildebrandt says he has donated the Airbnb earnings from his subsidized apartment towards paying Alberta’s debt.