Campaign finance changes needed

| 07/01/2016 | 40 Comments
Cayman News Service

Ezzard Miller, North Side MLA (Photo by Dennie Warren Jr)

(CNS): Government needs to address the rules surrounding campaign finances to create a more honest reflection on the cash candidates spend in their efforts to get elected, according to independent MLA Ezzard Miller. Government is expected to amend the elections law to accommodate ‘one man, one vote’ in single member constituencies early this year and Miller wants it to also extend the period over which campaign finances are considered to six months or more and increase the expenditure limits.

“One of the things that makes a mockery of the current rules is that anything candidates spend before Nomination Day doesn’t count,” said Miller, who believes that any money candidates spend on promoting themselves at least six months before the election should count.

“Most campaign money is already spent before Nomination Day,” he said, pointing out that no one ever gets to see what is really spent by a party or candidates. That needs to change and there should also be a significant increase in the current spending limits, the veteran MLA  stated, adding, “The numbers are stupid. It is far too low at the moment.”

At present, the Elections Law (2013 Revision) imposes a spending limit of $35,000 per independent candidate and $30,000 per candidate in a party but the clock does not start until Nomination Day, six weeks before the date of the national poll. Before that, any money spent on campaigning does not count.

Given the anticipated historical changes to Cayman’s electoral landscape, paving the way for OMOV in SMCs for the May 2017 election, the unofficial campaign for the next General Election is expected to start long before March next year. But without legislative changes, millions of dollars could be spent on political promotion that will not be counted, undermining the purpose of financing limits, which is to try and level the playing field and create transparency about where the money comes from and exposing special interest connections.

Miller has stated that if government doesn’t make the necessary changes to the anticipated legislation, which he says he hopes to see gazetted in the next few weeks, he will file amendments to it himself to make sure that, at the very least, the issue is debated. Miller is likely to find some support on this issue across the Chamber, as both the opposition leader and the premier have in the past criticised the current situation regarding campaign finances and the limitations on spending.

At the last election the PPM spent almost $337,000 fielding 15 candidates and the UDP over $225,000 on 12. Not every unsuccessful candidates filed expense returns as required but well over $1 million was spent by people trying to get elected in the six week period before polling day on 22 May.

However, it is widely believed that much more than that was spent well before the official campaign began. In 2017, with 19 constituencies the figure will be far greater and candidates are likely to welcome any expansion in expenses as most would-be politicians who can raise the money will want to spend it.

As well as a change to financing rules, the North Side member echoed the sentiments of his independent colleague from East End, Arden McLean, that Cayman needs an independent electoral commission, separate and apart from government. The Elections Office is a government department within the Cabinet Office, which he said undermines its independence.

Miller has also called for the modernisation of the registration process, stating that technology now provides the means for the Elections Office to accept registration applications all of the time and have the names entered within a matter of days, and not months. He told CNS that the office should be proactive in sending out invitations to Caymanians who reach their 18th birthday to sign up.

According to the latest statistics from the Elections Office, there are 18,271 voters on the register, a figure which is likely to increase significant over the next twelve months.

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Category: Elections, Politics

Comments (40)

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  1. Grammer says:

    To answer your question Mr. / Ms. of 07/01/2016 at 4:09pm, we call them FISHIES.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Sorry Ezzard, it’s a thumbs down from me.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Will this OMOV actually happen…or will there be a change at the eleventh hour? I could be wrong but I get the impression many feel the Premiere might not get voted back in via OMOV and might decide not to go that way before elections.

  4. Justin says:

    When will this man be thrown out of the LA he’s a total disgrace. What has he ever done?? Name one job he has created? Just one?!

    • WaYaSay says:

      I am not a North Side voter nor constituant but Justin, with your narrow criteria for election in North Side, it appears that you think that Dart should be the MLA for North Side.

      Based on the last election in that districe, perhaps Mr. Miller should ask Government to include the value of free cacaine as campaign contributions as well.

      I do agree with Miller on this issue of an honest accounting by all polititions, of funds spent on their campaigns, as the money is already, and will continue to be spent.

      Pretending that people running for political office are only spending $35 000 to get elected is a joke.

  5. Anonymous says:

    In such a wealthy country with so few voters vote buying is the real issue, not campaign finance. Mac’s nation building fund, duty waivers, jobs for friends, etc etc.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I agree with you Mr Miller it should be raised to help you win the next election. We all know their is some Young blood, that is coming for your seat in north side come 2017!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Dear 2:46.
      If you think the smart intelligent hard working people of North Side is going for vote for young people who only finished high school and drive around in dark tinted trucks you are sadly mistaken. Ezzard with all his warts is a highly educated, experienced and the hardest working member of the LA for the people of North Side and the wider Cayman Islands.

      • Anonymous says:

        So are there two Ezzard Millers?

      • Anonymous says:

        Right… This is why campaign finance reform is his primary concern at the moment.

      • franksounder says:

        Well we can see Ezzard has some of his committee members watching CNS for him. But what I want to say to them is I hope the day you need him he tells you all the same thing he told all the other ones, his famous words. (My hands are tied I can’t help you with anything)!!!

      • Retired north sider says:

        What has he done for you? I guess he must have bought you out too!!!!! It’s time for a change in north side and east end.

  7. Anonymous says:

    You know, if you referred to it as OPOV (One Person One Vote), you would make a lot of women in the country a whole lot happier.

    • Anonymous says:

      In English the plural of mixed gender takes the male form. It is a simple rule that many misunderstand because of the less obvious role of noun gender in English grammar compared to many other language. Thus there is nothing wrong with the term “firemen”. The PC brigade can take a hike.

      • Anonymous says:

        Well, la di dah, Mr, Mrs, Ms or Miss 18th century grammarian. There is, in this 21st century, everything wrong with “firemen” when you are referring to a bunch of female fire officers.

        • Anonymous says:

          Had you understood the post you would have noted that a requisite for the rule to kick in is that the group is mixed, so it would not apply to a “bunch of female firefighters”. What do you call a mixed gender group of fishermen by the way?

          • Anonymous says:

            hook-ups?

          • Anonymous says:

            Why Fishpeople of course. ?

          • Anonymous says:

            A group/bunch of people who are or have been fishing. There are probably other alternatives but I don’t have time to reply to your condescension other than to point out that in this example there is no “requisite for a rule to kick in” in modern English, just imagined ones based on the prescriptive grammarians of over a century ago. You probably refuse to split an infinitive and also use latinate constructions such as “it is I” rather than English ones such as “it’s me” and God forbid that you would ever end a sentence with a preposition.That, as Churchill famously remarked, is something up with which you would never put.

            • Anonymous says:

              Well Googled but you response is based on a false premise, namely that the rule under discussion was one whose derived from the hypercorrective movement of certain 19th century pseudo-grammarians. Your attempt to re-cast a rule of grammar, namely the declension of mixed gender plural nouns, as a mere style issue is what leads to ghastly terms such as “fisherpeople”. Mixed plural genders take the male in the vast majority of European languages, including German, and the German rule has a similar longstanding historical provenance as the rule in English. This rule has nothing to do with the 19th century attempts to impose Latin forms onto English leading to hypercorrection. So I am in agreement with you about split infinitives, there is no rule of grammar that prohibits the splitting of an infinitive. “It is I” is another example of hypercorrection and also reads poorly in terms of style. Again we would be in agreement. Sentences ending in prepositions can almost always be re-written in a better style without the preposition at the end. That is a matter of style alone, rather than a rule of grammar. All the examples you cited in your email are style issues and have no credible foundation as a grammar rule. But the mixed gender rule is a rule of grammar, a rule which has been criticised by the feminist movement, but a rule all the same. So until we are ready to talk about “fisherpeople”, “policepeople” and ‘the Evolution of People”, please keep your feminist agenda out of English grammar.

              • Anonymous says:

                Jesus Christ, bobo @ 4:19, what a crashing bore you must be. Get a life.

              • Anonymous says:

                “Well Googled”? I’m not the original poster but I’m always struck by the fact that some persons think that only they are knowledgeable enough to comment with authority on a topic (even one as boring as this one) whereas everyone else has to Google something before they express an opinion. That’s somewhat arrogant and presumptuous, 4:19am, with a dash of pomposity, for good measure, thrown in.

                • Anonymous says:

                  Given the common errors in the post to which the reply was addressed, the hackneyed examples given and the even more hackneyed quote from Churchill, the derivation of the information in the post and the lack of original understanding did seem quite clear.

                  • Anonymous says:

                    My sympathies were originally neutral 11:50 but after reading with incredulity your obsessive follow up posts, they are all now with the original poster you objected to. You really are a pompous twat. And, yes, arrogant and presumptuous too, as 9:55 also pointed out. (Please do not bother to tell me I began the sentence with a conjunction; I know that. No need for you to get a hard-on over that grave solecism.)

                    • Anonymous says:

                      You did end a sentence with a proposition. Tut tut. I genuinely do not give a hoot what you think either. I do not look for approval especially from angry flamers like you.

              • Anonymous says:

                Let me know when you publish your book.

        • Anonymous says:

          Here comes the social justice warrior and political correctness police.

        • Anonymous says:

          My experience is that the term “la di dah” is the preserve of ignorant oiks showing themselves up. This post and others by the poster are consistent with that experience.

          • Anonymous says:

            What a fatuous comment, 7:56, and I’m not even the original poster you are objecting to. You would seem to me to be a good example of the “ignorant oiks” of whom you speak.

    • Anonymous says:

      Feminists are never happy. They just want more and more favourable discrimination and will always have something new to moan about.

  8. Cruz says:

    Why not base everything on America’s election policies i.e. Fund raising, spending, election date, etc…? We are changing to day light savings to fit america, so why not our political structure? Whilst at it why not just make Dart Premier? He is singled hand keeping this economy afloat!

  9. Anonymous says:

    When are the home appliance/solar panel/church payment deadlines?

  10. Sharkey says:

    I think that Mr Miller is correct in what he’s saying, to keep all candidates honest , and accountable and fair to all other candidates, and keep corruption out of the election.

  11. Anonymous says:

    If you buy white goods before Nomination Day but hand them over just before Election Day is that expenditure in or out?

    • Bernie Mac says:

      Hate to have to break it to them all but in 2017 white goods just aren’t going to cut it. Stainless Steel or no wote for you bobo.

    • Fred the Piemaker says:

      Anyone with any sense would ask show the voter a photo of the item, but hand it over after seeing a photo of their ballot paper,. Sure its not just the MLAs that are double dipping.

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