Derek Fildebrandt just can't seem to catch a break this month.
In July, the fiscally-conservative star of the new United Conservative Party of Alberta was considered a leadership contender. But in the past week, he wasn't able to go more than a few days without an embarrassing news headline about his not-so-distant past.
It culminated with the MLA for Strathmore-Brooks resigning from the caucus of the brand new party that was expecting to mount a serious challenge against Premier Rachel Notley's NDP government in the next Alberta election.
"This young party cannot afford to be distracted from the formative period that it is in right now as we come together as conservatives," Fildebrandt wrote in a message posted late on Tuesday on his Facebook page. "I owe that to my colleagues, my party members, my constituents, and all Albertans."
Some of the recent news reports about Fildebrandt included revelations about him allegedly "double-dipping" on his expense accounts as well as a report on Tuesday that he was facing charges related to a hit-and-run after a truck crashed into a parked van in the lot of an Edmonton condo building.
"Right now, media controversy is distracting from the work that must be done as the UCP is founded," he wrote in his message. "The UCP Leadership race should be focused on issues of leadership and values, and not on personalities.
"I have made honest mistakes – always doing what I believed was best at the time – and I accept responsibility, and am truly sorry."
The latest controversy to strike Fildebrandt involves the car accident at the Edmonton condominium building. The CBC reported Tuesday that Fildebrandt was charged with a hit-and-run after a woman reported seeing a driver of a red Ford F-150 truck back into her van and then drive away in June 2016.
"As media attention now passes from public issues to private issues, taking responsibility is not enough, and so I have submitted my resignation from the UCP Caucus to our Interim Leader Nathan Cooper," Fildebrandt continued in the message.
"My time now will be focused exclusively on my family and on the constituents of Strathmore-Brooks, who I am honoured to represent in the Legislature. My family and my constituents are the most important things to me, and I want to do them proud."
Fildebrandt has told the court that he had an alibi, backed up by 22 "relatively important people" who could testify that he was with them at the time of the accident, the CBC reported.
None of the allegations have been proven in court and the CBC reported that the trial was due to resume on Sept. 6.
"I’m a flawed man, and I can do better. If I have let anyone down, know that I have let myself down, and I will prove that that I am the man that I hold as the standard for trust and integrity," Fildebrandt wrote as he concluded his message. "I do this job, because I love Alberta, its land, and its people. I will never stop fighting for them."
The public broadcaster said it couldn't reach Fildebrandt for comment, while interim UCP leader, Nathan Cooper declined to give an interview about the topic since the matter is still before the courts.
News about the accident was the third negative report in the media about Fildebrandt over the past week.
First, the Edmonton Journal reported he was taking advantage of a subsidy program for politicians to cover the cost of his housing in the provincial capital while he also earned additional income by renting out his place on the Airbnb website when he was out of town.
This was followed by separate revelations, released by Alberta Party Leader Greg Clark, that indicated Fildebrandt had double-billed the government for some meal expenses.
The recent reports about Fildebrandt have upstaged other news about the emerging United Conservative Party, which formed this summer following the merger of the Progressive Conservative and Wildrose parties to challenge Alberta's NDP in the next provincial election.
Fildebrandt has accused his former Wildrose leader, Brian Jean, of leaking news about expenses after he criticized Jean's leadership aspirations in the new party.
Jean has denied this.
Fildebrandt rose to prominence after serving as a former Alberta director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation where he was an outspoken critic of politicians wasting public money. He has been a provincial politician in the Official Opposition at the Alberta legislature since the May 2015 election that swept Premier Rachel Notley's New Democrats to power.
He has also been a fierce opponent of the NDP's policies to fight climate change by making polluters pay.
The recent controversies have prompted some of Fildebrandt's social media critics to label him "Double Dipping Derek."
Fildebrandt has apologized for the Airbnb renting scheme and taken leave from his role as the UCP's finance critic. He has also described the double-billing of expenses on his meals as "administrative errors" that he would rectify by reimbursing the extra expenses.
Editor's note: This article was updated at 9:50 p.m. MT on Tuesday with quotes from Derek Fildebrandt's Facebook statement announcing his resignation from the UCP caucus.