EDMONTON — Premier Ed Stelmach admitted Monday that “overzealous” organizers for his Conservative leadership bid wrongly solicited a $10,000 cheque from a municipal garbage agency, money his campaign returned after he won the race.
The premier said the donation last summer from Beaver Regional Waste Management Service’s Commission was legal but clearly unethical, though the Tofield-area body’s records show the cheque was only returned a day before Stelmach’s campaign had officially cleared its debt in February.
It’s the second time Stelmach has blamed his campaigners for questionable practices, months after public outcry forced him to cancel a $5,000-a-ticket fundraising reception billed as a chance to have a private audience with Alberta’s top politician.
Liberal Leader Kevin Taft, who made public the $10,000 donation in the legislature Monday, accused Stelmach of developing a “conscience of convenience” once the leader had a campaign surplus and knew his finances faced more public scrutiny.
“It was only after they began to feel they would be watched that they developed a conscience and refunded the money,” Taft told reporters.
And yet some people will tell me that donations to leadership races have no business being public.
UPDATE: Calgary Grit’s take on Stelmach’s ““The donation might have been legal, it certainly was not ethical.” comment.