MLAs who live outside of the Edmonton area are eligible to receive a housing allowance to use toward a residence in the capital city, but the rules appear to be silent on whether an MLA can rent their government-subsidized accommodations on Airbnb while they are not there.
According to the Postmedia report, “between January and March, eight Airbnb renters reviewed the apartment. Over the same three months, Fildebrandt claimed $7,720 for accommodation in Edmonton.”
While the housing allowance makes sense, the entitlement is certainly not meant to be a secondary source of income for the MLA.
This might not be as big surprise if Fildebrandt were some Tory good ol’ boy, but he is someone who built his political career around attacking public spending by elected officials.
From the time he arrived in Alberta to work as the local spokesperson for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, he was a very spiky thorn in the side of the old Progressive Conservative government. As the Wildrose Party finance critic since 2015, he has been an unabashed partisan in his attacks against Rachel Notley’s New Democratic Party government.
This story comes only days after Fildebrandt announced he would not run for the leadership of the United Conservative Party. In one media report, he blamed the story on Brian Jean’s “backroom operators.”
Fildebrandt could have easily used this as an opportunity to make a point about public spending by claiming the funds he received through renting his government-subsidized Airbnb and applying for a lower housing allowance. But instead, he now says he will use the funds to help pay down Alberta’s provincial debt – after he got caught.
UPDATE: Fildebrandt announced last night that he is on-leave from his position as Finance co-critic for the United Conservative Party and is leaving the province on vacation.