Four months after Jason Kenney emerged victorious in the United Conservative Party’s leadership race, newly released figures continue to indicate his impressive capacity for bringing in campaign donations.
Campaign finances for the UCP leadership race, recently posted to the Elections Alberta website, show Kenney’s leadership campaign brought in $667,234 from supporters, more than any of the other UCP candidates. Alberta rules stipulate individual donations cannot exceed $4,000 but Kenney was able to attract over $214,000 in donations from people donating $250 or less and and over $450,000 from people donating over $250.
One-time Wildrose leader Brian Jean had the second-highest amount of donations but was still over $114,000 shy of Kenney’s total, bringing in $553,015. Doug Schweitzer’s supporters gave his campaign $269,865, Jeff Callaway raised $94,384 and Paul Hinman raised $6,462.
Watch below: Some videos from Global News’ coverage of Jason Kenney winning the UCP leadership race in October 2017.
Just months before running to become the leader of the UCP — formed by a merger between the Wildrose Party and the Progressive Conservatives — Kenney was successful in his bid to become leader of the Progressive Conservatives. Statements filed by Kenney’s team later showed he generated a whopping $1.49 million in campaign contributions for that race.
After winning the PC leadership race, Kenney came under scrutiny from other parties who decried the “secrecy” around the “huge sums of money” he spent on his campaign.
“Nowhere in Mr. Kenney’s legally-mandated financial statements does it mention the $508,000 raised by Unite Alberta in the unregulated period before the PC race started,” Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan said in July as he called for stricter regulation of political action committees (PACs). “Mr. Kenney’s team released a list of just 74 of the PACs’ self-reported 2,129 donors, leaving too many unanswered questions.
The NDP also criticized the Kenney campaign at the time for not disclosing the names of all donors.
Blaise Boehmer, Kenney’s director of communications, said totals from both the pre-writ (Unite Alberta) and leadership phases of fundraising reached over $2 million.
“When we first launched our campaign, we made a good faith promise to disclose our donors despite the fact that we were not obligated to,” Boehmer wrote in an email to Global News at the time. “Subsequently, we received a legal opinion advising that consent must be sought under the Privacy Act before disclosing donor details.
“We contacted all of our donors to seek permission; we only released the names of those who agreed in order to comply with the Privacy Act.”
Watch below: In January 2018, Quinn Ohler filed this report about a poll showing that if an election was held in Alberta at the time, the UCP would have won by a landslide.
Kenney, a former federal cabinet minister in Stephen Harper’s Conservative government, was sworn in as an MLA in January after winning a byelection in the constituency of Calgary Lougheed. He will take his seat in the legislature when the spring sitting begins on March 8.
–With files from Emily Mertz and Caley Ramsay