Jason Kenney spent 7 times as much as other candidates in race to lead Alberta PCs

The winner of the Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership contest, Jason Kenney, spent seven times as much on his campaign as the other three candidates combined.

The winner of the Alberta PC leadership race filed $1.46 million in campaign expenses, new documents show

Jason Kenney speaks to Progressive Conservative party members in Calgary after he was elected party leader on March 18. (Michelle Bellefontaine/CBC News )

Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership contest winner Jason Kenney spent seven times as much on his campaign as the other three candidates combined. 

Kenney, who was elected the party's leader on March 18, filed $1.46 million in expenses related to the leadership contest, according to financial statements released by Elections Alberta on Tuesday. 

The documents show that candidate Richard Starke was the second biggest spender, filing $162,603 in expenses. Stephen Khan spent $24,919 and Byron Nelson, $15,579. 

In addition to the campaign expenses, all four candidates were required to pay a non-refundable $30,000 leadership contestant fee. They also post a $20,000 compliance bond to ensure they follow the rules.

Kenney was to forfeit $5,000 of his compliance bond for showing up at a meeting where delegates were being selected to vote for the leader.

Salaries cost Kenney 

According to the financial statements, Kenney spent $662,728 paying his campaign staff, which is four times more than Starke, who doled out $73,747 in salaries, spent on his entire campaign. 

The cost of Starke's campaign was less than the cost of Kenney's events and rallies, for which he spent $164,023.

Starke had former caucus colleagues, such as Ed Stelmach and Jacquie Fenske, contributing hundreds of dollars to his campaign. 

But Kenney filed a much lengthier list of donors, including 600 contributors who gave more than $250.

Nine contributors put up more than $20,000. Among them were some high-profile Alberta business people, including Fred Mannix, Stanley Milner and Nancy Southern, the president and CEO of ATCO.

Former prime minister Stephen Harper also donated to his former cabinet minister's campaign, albeit a much smaller sum of $1,700. 

Pre-writ fundraising

Kenney, like the other candidates, was only required to register financial statements during the writ period, which began in the fall of 2016. However, Kenney announced his intention to run months earlier. 

He has publicly committed to releasing any donations he received before the writ period.

Kenney campaign spokesperson Blaise Boehmer said on Tuesday that Kenney, whose platform was to merge the province's right-wing parties, raised $508,000 from 2,129 contributors prior to the official start of the leadership race through his Unite Alberta effort.

Boehmer said 1,992 of those donors put up less than $250, meaning their names wouldn't be publicly disclosed under Elections Alberta law.

The Kenney campaign sought legal advice that recommended obtaining the consent of donors who put up more than $250 in the pre-writ period before releasing their names. 

Of the 137 contributors in the pre-writ period who contributed more than $250, the 74 who consented to be named contributed $118,745, according to a document provided by Boehmer.