Central Alberta Wildrose MLA Joe Anglin’s bombshell allegation that a party official offered him a thinly veiled bribe to step down is “preposterous,” says the party’s president.
“I have absolutely no idea what he’s talking about,” said David Yager, who had not heard anything prior about the supposed overture by an unidentified party member.
Anglin, who represents Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre, claimed on Wednesday that a party member suggested earlier this month that if he stepped down as MLA for the riding, he could land a cushy job with the Alberta Electric System Operator, Alberta Energy Regulator or Alberta Surface Rights Board.
Anglin said he was appalled by the offer and tossed the senior party member out of his office.
The outspoken MLA is fighting an increasingly nasty nomination battle for his seat with his former constituency association president Jason Nixon. He highlighted the bribery incident as an example of what is wrong behind the scenes with the party, which Anglin contends is straying from its democratic and grassroots ideals.
Yager also addressed Anglin’s accusation that Nixon broke party rules by not quitting his constituency position before announcing his nomination bid.
Anglin’s complaint was reviewed by a party committee and rejected. An appeal was also unsuccessful, which prompted Anglin to complain the party was picking favourites.
Yager dismissed that suggestion. “I’ve never met the man (Nixon).”
Candidates are carefully vetted and then pass muster before a local candidate nominating committee.
“The members of that riding are the people that select that candidate. It’s not up to me or anyone on executive committee in this process to say this guy is a good candidate or that guy is a bad candidate.
“Of the 14 MLAs who went through the nomination process, only one was challenged. I’m not going to say anything more. I think that says something.”
Yager said the party will put the matter to rest with the vote in the coming few days.
“We, as a party, we think this should be resolved at the ballot box by the members of the riding, not in the media.”
Similar sentiments were echoed in a news release sent out later Thursday by Yager.
“Wildrose favours open, contested nominations. We will not alter our democratic, grassroots nomination process to favour a particular person or outcome.
“We think the final outcome of a candidate selection process should be determined by members at the ballot box, not through the media or the court of public opinion.”
The nomination process has been fair, compliant and fully compliant with nomination rules.
On Thursday, Anglin offered a “no comment” when asked if he had taken a lot of flak from party members for his outspoken comments a day earlier.
“What I’m doing now is I’m in full campaign mode because it’s only one week until voting time,” he said.
“As far as advocating for my constituents, of all the 87 MLAs in all parties I have logged more hours under the dome than anyone, advocating for the constituents, and I will run on that record and I’m proud of it.”
Anglin said his focus is on the race and he’s not going to comment further on his criticism of some party players.
“The only thing I’m commenting on now is that we have a nomination race underway and I am the strongest advocate for water and the environment in my Wildrose Party caucus.”
Anglin pointed out that he is working on a fracking and water use policy for the party that he hopes addresses the concerns of area residents on those issues. The vote is likely to take place late next week.