Brian Jean has been accused of bringing a $322,000 deficit into the newly formed United Conservative Party.
Jean’s campaign denies the allegations, saying there’s no such thing as caucus deficits, but his detractors say otherwise. So what’s the truth?
I contacted the Legislative Assembly Office and they tell me that caucus budgets are part of the overall Legislative Assembly Office Budget which is reviewed and approved by the Members’ Services Committee each year.
They also tell me that expenditures can’t surpass the approved limits, with the key being that they are approved yearly.
So there can’t be a deficit at the end of the year, but caucuses can go over budget throughout the year as long as they balance out by the end of the year.
But MLA’s have been asked to contribute money from their own separate expenditure allowances to pay down this $337,000 shortfall. If there wasn’t a deficit, why are they being asked to pay it back?
I put that question to interim leader Nathan Cooper and haven’t heard back from him yet but will update you if I receive a response.
At this point, the only certainty is that this deficit is a Wildrose Party issue that’s poisoning the well and affecting the UCP.
It will be up to voters to decide whose shoulders the problem rests on when they cast their ballots in the leadership race on October 28th.