The United Conservative Party (UCP) says a review of expenses claimed by its caucus members found errors that add up to $557.30.
UCP interim leader Nathan Cooper said the money has been returned to the Alberta legislature and he is taking steps to ensure that such errors don’t happen again.
“The UCP takes responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars very seriously and we take full responsibility for these irregularities,” Cooper said Thursday in a release.
“All UCP MLAs with anomalies in their expenses have reimbursed the Crown and are taking additional steps to ensure proper due diligence in the future.”
The party conducted the review after former UCP member Derek Fildebrandt made headlines over his meal and other expenses. He resigned from the caucus on Tuesday.
The UCP reviewed expenses back to May 2015 and found problems with claims made by nine of its members that range from as high as $180.05 to as little as $11.60.
The party said the $557.30 total does not include Fildebrandt’s expense claims because he is no longer in the UCP caucus.
Fildebrandt acknowledged meal claim errors worth $192.60 over a period of two-and-a-half years.
Last week he apologized after he admitted that he had been renting out his taxpayer-subsidized apartment through Airbnb. Fildebrandt said he has paid back $2,555 he earned from the rental to the legislature.
When he resigned, Fildebrandt said he didn’t want the media attention over his expenses to take the focus away from the recent merger of the Wildrose and Progressive Conservative parties into the UCP, including its leadership campaign.
Watch below: He was once seen as a potential future leader of the United Conservative Party but now that a number of question have arisen about his expense claims, Derek Fildebrandt is no longer with the UCP. On Aug. 16, 2017, Tom Vernon took a closer look at what happened.
Cooper said the UCP believes in fiscal responsibility and hopes other Alberta political parties will conduct their own reviews of their expenses and release the results.
“I hope all MLAs will follow our lead and conduct their own internal reviews in the interest of utmost transparency,” he said.
The UCP said it is working on developing recommendations to present to the next legislature members’ services committee meeting next month that aim to modernize how MLA expense claims are processed.
In an email to Global News, a spokesperson for the NDP caucus said they “do regular checks on expenses to ensure that filing is done properly.
“This work is ongoing and administrative mistakes are regularly corrected with reimbursements,” Robin Steudel said.
“Given that we review on an ongoing basis and correct mistakes as they arise, unfortunately I don’t have a summary of results.”
View below: A chart showing UCP expense claim errors made by members dating back to May 2015 (excluding Derek Fildebrandt claims as he is no longer with the party) after the UCP conducted an internal audit.
— With a file from Global News
© 2017 The Canadian Press