Is Assembly Speaker Ken Kowalski using his Constituency Office to fundraise for the Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock Progressive Conservative association?
A registration form for the 24th Annual Ken Kowalski “The Classic” Golf Tournament (see PDF registration form) directs readers to mail cheques payable to the local PC association at Box 4576, Barrhead, Alberta T7N 1A4.
A quick Google search shows that the post office box is also listed as Speaker Kowalski’s Constituency Office mailing address on many websites, including the Town of Barrhead website.
If the internet is correct, it appears that the local PC association and the Constituency Office are sharing a mailing address. If this is the case, are political funds or public funds paying for this post office box? If they are indeed sharing a mailing address, it would suggest that correspondence from constituents of all political stripes to Speaker Kowalski’s Constituency Office would also be accessible to the local PC association.
It would be highly inappropriate for any elected official, especially one in Speaker Kowalski’s position of responsibility, to be using a publicly funded Constituency Office as a location to collect political donations.
19 replies on “ken kowalski’s golf tournament conflict?”
Nice one Dave – I think this adds to the body of evidence pointing to the fact that this Conservative government is unable to distinguish between their party and their role in government.
Another detail to this is that all expenses for the constituency offices are paid through the Legislative Assembly Office (commonly referred to as the LAO) which falls ultimately under the pervue of the Speaker – i.e. if any MLA or Caucus disputes the LAO’s decision on the approval or, more often, the denial of LAO payment for any invoice the ultimate arbiter of the dispute is the Speaker.
Wonder how they’ll work this one out.
I can tell you exactly how they’ll work this one out. They won’t. Don’t kid yourselves. Unless the Journal and Herald get on to this and make it a big issue, the Speaker will continue to abuse his privilige as he sees fit.
Short of bigger media, or perhaps hundreds of angry letters about it to the Premier, no one will convince Kowalski that he has to play by the rules. The guy is the worst Speaker in the country. A little mailbox controversy isn’t going to change that.
One of the worst missed opportunities by Ed was the chance to quietly impose a change in Speaker when he first came to power. Surely the new Premier could have told the PC caucus who to vote for, especially after his electoral sweep. He should have send Kowalski to the back benches, as a signal of his commitment to change and cleaner government. Sadly it didn’t happen.
I came across your May 5, 2010 blog posting titled, “ken kowalski’s golf tournament conflict?” and wanted to clarify for you. The Town of Barrhead’s website is inaccurate.
The association mailing address is:
Barrhead, AB T7N 1A4
While the constituency mailing address is:
5100 – 50 Avenue
Barrhead, AB T7N 1L1
Had you contacted either the constituency or the association they would have been happy to clarify this for you. I am confident there will be a clarification on your blog.
If you have any question please do not hesitate to contact me.
BMW PC Association
If this is correct, I am sorry to say I am not the least bit surprised. In my opinion, Mr. Kowalski has previously demonstrated that his grasp of ethics is not the best. I have come to think of his title as the “Not So Honourable” Ken Kowalski.
Thanks for the comments, Jerry. It appears that I am not the first person to raise this issue.
Apparently, this issue has been raised in the Legislature before, in 1994. It appears that 16 years later, there is still some confusion over this issue.
April 25, 1994
2:00 Constituency Golf Tournament
MR. GERMAIN: Mr. Speaker, with your indulgence I’ll table four copies of a postage rendering from the constituency office in Barrhead as a backup to my question this afternoon. The separation of partisan politics from political fund-raising is fundamental to good government. Constituency offices should not
be involved in raising funds and spending constituency money for fund-raising. Likewise, the government should leave the civil service alone in terms of fund-raising promotions. My question, therefore, this afternoon to the Deputy Premier is this: Mr. Deputy Premier, can you tell us please why you allowed your
constituency office to be used to supply postage for your recent constituency fund-raising golf tournament?
Questions outside Ministerial Responsibility
MR. SPEAKER: Order. Order please. It’s not clear to the Chair what the departmental responsibilities of the hon. minister that’s being asked the question have to do with something that’s going on in the constituency office.
MR. N. TAYLOR: It’s the MLA’s responsibilities.
MR. SPEAKER: That should then be a matter for the Members’ Services Committee. The role is to ask a question relating to the minister’s departmental responsibilities, nothing outside those responsibilities.
MR. MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, it’s his department that was soliciting funds, the economic development department. Point of order.
MR. SPEAKER: Order please. If he can tie it to departmental responsibilities . . . [interjections] Order please.
Constituency Golf Tournament (continued)
MR. GERMAIN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In that case, to the Deputy Premier: why did you allow the employees under your direct control to be targeted with a mail-out campaign for that political fund-raising event?
MR. KOWALSKI: Mr. Speaker, I’d be very, very pleased to file with the Assembly today an invitation to attend my eighth annual family charity fund-raising golf tournament. It says: you are invited. It has absolutely nothing to do with my portfolio. Secondly, I don’t know what postage box number the hon. gentleman is talking about, but as best as I recall, I only have three in Barrhead. One is 5615-55 Street. Any individual in Alberta who would like to attend my golf tournament can write to me at 5615-55 Street. The second one is Box 5, Barrhead, as
well, which is a personal box. The third one is Box 1600, Barrhead, which in fact is mine. Mr. Speaker, we have no postage meter associated with my constituency office that belongs to the government of Alberta. From time to time volunteers associated with me will borrow a postage meter from entrepreneurs in the community who want to lend it to us. I’m not sure what the hon. gentleman is getting at. Mr. Speaker, every citizen in the province of Alberta who wants to attend my family fund-raising golf tournament is welcome to do so. It’s the 25th day of June of 1994.
AN HON. MEMBER: He got you, Adam.
MR. GERMAIN: No, my friend, he didn’t get me. He got the
taxpayers of Alberta. Mr. Speaker, will the Deputy Premier refer this matter to the Ethics Commissioner for a ruling on this bunker-gate issue?
MR. KOWALSKI: Mr. Speaker, I read in a newspaper today that the Liberal Party was doing that. There’s no need for me to do that. I’ll abide by any decision and any ruling of the Ethics Commissioner.On that same point, Mr. Speaker, I’d like to file with the Assembly today a copy of a recent newsletter put out by the
Alberta Liberal Party. I’ve already talked about how I use my . . .
MR. SPEAKER: Order. [interjection] Order. [interjection] Order please. It’s not clear to the Chair how we get reverting to tablings on this matter from the context of the supplemental question that was asked.
8:00pm April 25, 1994 Alberta Hansard 1441
MR. KOWALSKI: Mr. Speaker, I’ll be very brief. I’ll cite section 23(h) of the Standing Orders of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. Section 23(h) basically deals with a member called to order if that member makes allegations against another member. I could just as easily cite (i) and (j) and other sections in there.
Mr. Speaker, in question period this afternoon the Member for Fort McMurray made the following statement:
Mr. Deputy Premier, can you tell us please why you allowed your constituency office to be used to supply postage for your recent constituency fund-raising golf tournament?
I’ve never done such a thing, and my constituency office did not do such a thing.
The hon. member also tabled in the Assembly this afternoon a document, which was tabled in here and has been given a sessional citation, and the document is a photostat of a piece of paper that says, “P.O. Box 4576, Barrhead, Alta, T7N 1A4.”
Box 4576 is a box number that’s registered to the Barrhead Progressive Conservative Association, Mr. Speaker. It is not a box registered to my constituency office. That matter is one that I’d like clarified, and I’m going to ask the hon. Member for Fort McMurray to retract his statement.
MR. GERMAIN: I’m happy to speak to this, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The question, I can assure all members of the Assembly, was asked in good faith. The minister could have answered the question at that time. Let me tell you that we communicated by phone to the constituency office of the hon. member and were
given that particular box number, 4576, at which we could respond to the member relative to constituency office matters. If the member indicates that that is in fact the Progressive Conservative constituency office and not his MLA constituency office, then clearly the information that we were given was incorrect. Perhaps
the Deputy Premier may wish to ensure that people disseminating that information make it clear what they’re disseminating.
Based on the minister’s commentary, I’m happy to retract any comment I might have made that he feels offended him and apologize to him unreservedly.
The correct mailing address for the constituency address is 5110 – 50 Avenue Barrhead, AB T7N 1L1. Sorry, my typing error.
For those individuals who have not taken the time to check this out before commenting, this is highly unethical.
Thanks for the comments, John Tiemstra.
To be clear, I raised this issue because a constituent of Mr. Kowalski’s alerted me of this issue (they also told me that they had a very difficult time contacting Mr. Kowalski’s constituency office to raise this issue over the phone).
As you can read in my previous comment in this thread, this issue has been raised before. I am a little dismayed that 16 years later, there is still confusion around this potential conflict issue around the exact same Golf Tournament.
You have made it clear that the Box address belongs to the PC Association, but if a constituent were to mail a letter to Box 4576, 5110-50 Avenue Barrhead, Alberta T7N 1A4, who would receive the correspondence? The PC Association or the Constituency Office? Is the PC Association postal box and the Constituency office at the same location? I would be happy if you could clarify these questions, for posterity sake.
Also, the Constituency Office address is listed as 5110-50 Avenue. Barrhead, AB. T7N 1A4 on the Legislative Assembly website. When you contact the Town of Barrhead to fix their incorrect address, you might also want to contact Speaker Kowalski, who’s office is responsible for the accuracy of the Assembly website.
This is all rather comical (in a sad way) since less than 2 weeks ago Ken went on at great length about the differences between LAO & Constituency expenditures. This was during the last Member Services meeting.
Minutes can be found here: http://www.assembly.ab.ca/ISYS/LADDAR_files/docs/committees/ms/legislature_27/session_3/20100426_1330_01_ms.pdf
This s my favorite quote;
“It’s very hard to put a list of 58 do’s and don’ts, but it’s very, very
clear to me. If it contains personal criticism of another member, I’m
not going to have on my website a 23-page condemnation of any one
of you. I’d never do that. It’s not my personality, to begin with.
Why would I use public funds to do that? If I wanted to do that, I
would go raise my own funds. As long as you recognize you’re
dealing with public, taxpayer dollars, there is a responsibility for it.”
Mr. Tiemstra, you might want to recheck your postal code. The one you provided on your 2009 finanial disclosure form to Elections Alberta is T7N 1A4. You might want to double check with Canada Post, then call the nice people at the Town of Barrhead back to undo the T7N 1L1 change.
Your 2009 Financial Disclosure form, to refresh your memory: http://efpublic.elections.ab.ca/afEFUploadView.cfm?&ACID=7169
FYI, T7N 1A4 is also the postal code used on your 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, and both 2004 disclosure forms. Additionally, it is the postal code used for the 2004 and 2008 general election campaigns for Mr. Kowalski.
As Dave points out, the “Box 4576” address is listed as Kowalski’s constituency office up on quite a few other websites as well. If the two entities are indeed distinct, you’d think Kowalski’s own people would have taken steps to clear this up.
A few other examples:
On his Facebook page (no, I’m not a fan), Kowalski lists Box 4576 as his contact address. In his mind, clearly, he IS his local PC Association.
This is no typo. It is pathological. And, it is a 16-year-old issue. Why hasn’t Kowalski fixed it? Simple. He doesn’t see it as a problem.
Thanks for the comments. This appears to be a long-standing issue.
Earlier I posted quotes from when this issue was raised on the floor of the Legislative Assembly in 1994, but more recently, here is an excerpt from an Edmonton Journal in 2006 (“Oilers give Taft keen competition”, Edmonton Journal, Sunday, May 21 2006):
Speaker Ken Kowalski’s office is red-faced after having the Liberals notice that some of the contact information on the legislature assembly website for Kowalski’s constituency office actually links people to his constituency association, the Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock Tory organization that raises money for Kowalski’s election campaigns.
Kowalski’s executive assistant, Bev Alenius, said it’s nothing but an embarrassing mistake that will be quickly fixed. MLAs’ constituency offices — which serve constituents no matter who they vote for — are supposed to be completely separate from the partisan constituency associations.
Liberal MLA Rick Miller is also questioning how Kowalski’s constituency association got his wife’s address, along with the addresses of spouses and relatives of other Liberal MLAs, to invite them to Kowalski’s annual fund-raising golf tournament next month.
Kowalski acknowledged Friday that the integrity of his office is paramount. He is looking into both matters.
With regard to your question as to whether or not mail addressed to Box 4576 would go to the Association or the Constituency Office, I have no idea who would receive this letter. My instinct however, is that given the strong community ties, the post office would know to send a letter to the MLA to the constituency office… but that would be a question for Canada Post. A bit of history however, years ago, around 1994 the Town of Barrhead went from Box numbers to Street Addresses. The Street address for the Constituency office was determined to be 5110 – 50 Avenue, Barrhead, AB T7N 1L1 (although postal codes were not clear at the time)…a box number was assigned to the Association, Box 4576, Barrhead, AB T7N 1A4. Clearly, this change caused some confusion, for many businesses and residence…however, we made every effort to advise of the address changes. Unfortunately, it appears that some of the sites, databases, etc, were not correctly updated.
Kevin, with regard to your comment, note that the Association files with Elections Alberta….NOT THE CONSTITUENCY OFFICE…hence the usage of the Association POSTAL CODE!
Scott with regard to your comments “On his Facebook page (no, I’m not a fan), Kowalski lists Box 4576 as his contact address. In his mind, clearly, he IS his local PC Association.” The Facebook page is designed to allow people to direct questions to the BMW Association”. Our understanding is that only folks interested in accessing the Facebook page … do. Sooo….
My hobby is collecting correspondence related to confusion over postal codes and mailing addresses.
I am so fortunate to have found this site! So rich in treasure! Keep up the great work! And keep those clarifying posts coming!
So now Kowalski’s people are blaming… Canada Post?
How sad. Obviously this issue has been raised numerous times in the past. Kowalski’s inaction on it is his way of flipping the bird to the opposition.
So far Albertans, especially those in his riding, have shown support for his (in)actions. This the joy of the one party state. Thankfully enough bs may have finally mounted to force Albertans to change the ruling party. Hopefully the next party holds itself to a higher standard than this one does, because it takes 30-40 years of continually worsening behaviour before Albertans opt for change.
The worse part of this mess is the signal that it sends. If the Speaker, the ultimate authority over LAO spending, cannot bother to keep his political and governmental resources clearly seperated, why would any other member bother? And don’t kid yourselves, very few of them do. The opposition caucuses, NDP and Liberal alike, have often quietly had their LAO funded staff assist with party matters. I’ve also heard of Cabinet ministers that will insist on their constituency staff having access to their departmental files and email, even though seperation between MLA and Ministry staff is another barrier that is supposed to be maintained.
All of this muddyness comes from the top down. If the boss is skimming from the company, why shouldn’t the employees? The whole thing is a mess. Hopefully the Wild Rose Alliance will win in 2012, a new Speaker will be appointed, and we can start trying to reverse 60+ years of “entitlement” based governing.
A little history ; This was sent to the K-97 morning crew in 2002
—– Original Message —–
From: Vern Redel
Sent: Wednesday, March 20, 2002 9:39 PM
Subject: Golfing in Alberta
Hi Terry, Bill and Steve;
Listening to you guys in the mornings has become a habit in our house near Barrhead. It gets our days started in a twisted but right sort of way. Recently you guys have dared to go where no other FM station has dared to go. And that is; to open phone lines to people with political beefs. Good move as many listeners interested in open lines on local politics have been limited to CHEDs Dave Rutherford and his bias.
On Wednesday morning you were talking about golfing. Let me say this. The Barrhead golf course west of town that you refer to has been a favorite stop -over for our elusive MLA Ken Kowalski who resides in Edmonton and visits this area occasionally to cut ribbons, run for re-election and of course; golf. Being Ken’s favorite spot in his constituency has also garnered it as a leading recipient of VLT lottery funds.
Fiscal Year:1998/1999Grant Recipient: Barrhead Golf and Recreation Area SocietyGranting Agency:Community Facility Enhancement Program IIIAmount:$123,995.00 Comments:Barrhead Golf and Recreation Area, debt reduction
Fiscal Year:1998/1999Grant Recipient: Barrhead Golf and Recreation Area SocietyGranting Agency:Community Lottery Board Region #20Amount:$5,000.00 Comments:To purchase a new phase converter
Fiscal Year:2001/2002Grant Recipient: Barrhead Golf and Recreation Area SocietyGranting Agency:Community Facility Enhancement ProgramAmount:$50,000.00 Comments:Barrhead Golf and Recreation Area, facility upgrades
Now with the new provincial budget reportedly withholding grants to community projects, funding will stop and the Barrhead Golf and Recreation may not be a favorite stop-over for traveling golfers as the farmers in the area may not be too willing to accept the added costs of maintaining the county owned course. The other course – the Paddle River Golf Club deserves mention also. It may not be as big but is just as much fun to play. And they are funded the old fashioned way- with it’s own earnings. Just thought you would like to know.
This was sent to the Edmonton Journal in 2004
—– Original Message —–
From: Vern Redel
To: Edmonton Journal Letters
Sent: Monday, August 23, 2004 12:14 PM
Subject: PC’s Party To The Tune Of $304,000.00
It’s no surprise that the Klein government has been able to use public funds to further themselves with parties to the tune of $ 304,000 in 2001- 2002. The driving force behind these costs are the same person who directs debate and motions in the legislature- the House Speaker. Using his position as Speaker, Ken Kowalski put a stop to debate on MLAs pensions and perks, and as chair of the members’ services committee, engineered the passing of same bill. This enables him to collect nearly a ½ million dollars severance for time served. When public money was “loaned” to West Edmonton Mall Ken Kowalski was there. When the Swan Hills waste treatment plant was built, Mr. Kowalski was there. Kowalski recently told a Barrhead reporter that he was involved in setting up the AISH program, which limits handicaps’ incomes to $855.00. When former Alberta Gaming Commission head Ziad Jaber was found guilty of influence peddling for accepting $200,000.00 to lobby his minister in awarding a government contract for an ALCB contract in 1992/93 that minister was Ken Kowalski. Albertans have also footed the bill for other developments in his riding such as the huge, little used Swan Hills hospital, $7 million renovations to the Barrhead hospital which reduced beds from 56 to 27, upgrades to the Barrhead Golf Club from VLT funds and the $695,000.00 spent on the nearby airstrip and more recently, the non-publicized renovations and furniture for his Barrhead constituency office, which has little more purpose than to turn away people with problems. His time spent in government dates back to the Lougheed and Getty eras and has given him the ability to manipulate policies and legislation to his benefit. It is also no surprise that Ken Kowalski presides over the Assembly Office and it’s staff which cannot be questioned in the house and his budget conveniently falls under the purview of the members’ services committee, which set the policy that a breakdown of expenses for the Speaker’s office, the premier’s office and executive council is not made public. Is it any wonder Kowalski is widely regarded to be reigning Provincial pork barrel king? This cozy little set-up has given themselves free reign over public funds, immune from scrutiny and accountability and run more like a private-for-profit corporation manipulating own assets than a democratic, open and honest public system. It’s time Albertans understand how we have allowed the continued arrogance of this government and that we should stop funding personal agendas and demand accountability from our elected representatives.
Kowalski is SO biased it’s pathetic. Sitting in the role as Speaker he should be above reproach. Instead he is a prime example of why the PCs need to go. He has probably done more to destroy democracy in this province than anyone else. Please Westlock/Barrhead voters. Please wake up.
Oh, Ken, I’ll be so glad when you aren’t an embarrassment to my home town any more.