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Heat on MLA Filde­brandt

Calgary Sun - - FRONT PAGE - JAMES WOOD jwood@post­media.com @JamesWoodPress

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.

Post­MEdiA

Derek Filde­brandt says he has do­nated the Airbnb earn­ings from his sub­si­dized apart­ment to­wards pay­ing Al­berta’s debt.

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