Town council ordered to pay back political contributions

Rimbey town council will fork over $359.50 to the province after investigations revealed taxpayer dollars had been used

Rimbey town council will fork over $359.50 to the province after investigations revealed taxpayer dollars had been used for contributions to a political party between October 2005 and May 2010.

Rimbey CAO Tony Goode said contributions in the amount of $1,438 was made by town officials during this time period.

In a letter to Goode, O. Brian Fjeldheim, CEO for Elections Alberta stated he appointed William Sage to investigate an allegation that the Town of Rimbey had made contributions to registered political entities in Alberta in violation of the Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act.

The required payment of $359 is 25 per cent of the prohibited contributions.

“I strongly recommend the town establish a system of due diligence to prevent a recurrence of this type of incident,” said Fjeldheim.

Goode said most of the money used as contributions to the Progressive Conservative Party by town officials was later paid back.

“The amount not reimbursed is very minor and it was probably just an oversight. These things have happened in the past and I don’t believe there was any intent to misappropriate any funds.”

Mayor Sheldon Ibbotson was not surprised to receive the request for payment. “I knew something was coming.”

However, he doesn’t believe the process to be fair. “I don’t see the need to fine the voters again.”

Information from the website of elections.ab.ca states that as of July, Elections Alberta continues to review allegations of prohibited contributions.

Fjeldheim said 81 files have been opened since Elections Alberta began its review, and of those, a thorough review of 71 files has been concluded.

To date, 26 files have been closed following payment of the administrative penalties.

Elections Alberta is an independent office of the Legislative Assembly that provides non-partisan administration of the electoral process.