Election cash could fuel next controversy

| 30/05/2017 | 32 Comments

(CNS): All 61 candidates who campaigned in the elections now have until the end of June to complete their reports on the cash they spent over the eight weeks between Nomination Day and the General Election on 24 May. But the issue could prove to be the next controversial topic following the election result because of the “limited transparency” that was noted by the overseas election observers in their report. The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association mission, which gave the election a clean bill of health, nevertheless raised concerns about the lack of campaign funding information being given to the public before polling day, among other issues.

Following amendments to the law last year, all candidates, regardless of whether they ran in a group or party, had a spending limit of $40,000 during that eight week period. No cash spent before 28 March needs to be revealed and the observers noted the lack of requirement for candidates “to submit, or for the authorities to audit or publish, reports on expenditure before polling day”.

The mission said that in the absence of public funding for either parties or candidates, the previous mission in 2013 had expressed concern that the “amount of funding from private Caymanians was too high and distorted the fairness of the campaign”, and issue that had not been addressed.

When the candidates have all submitted their finance reports, the elections supervisor will publish a summary, which will be available to the public. But the observers noted that there is no provision to check that candidates are telling the truth. In their report about the post-election finance declarations, they point out that there is “no obligation on any state institution to actually verify the completeness and accuracy of the expenses and contributions declared”.

The law does not require candidates to reveal the identity of donors unless they contribute more than $10,000 in a single donation to an individual candidate. This means that the actual total of the well documented investment by Dr Steve Tomlinson in at least ten candidates and supporting generic campaign posters and advertising goes well beyond that sum. But the voters will never know the exact amount he invested unless Tomlinson chooses to reveal it.

The mission has said that the new Standards in Public Life legislation calls for higher accounting and oversight standards, but although that law was passed by members of the Legislative Assembly in 2014, it has still not been implemented and there is no commencement date. 

CNS understands that the regulations to support that law are being drawn up by the Constitutional Commission established under the Constitution, but there has been no indication when they will be ready to pave the way for the law.

The Elections Law reveals that the financial reports must be sworn before a justice of the peace stating that the election cash return “fully and accurately sets out all payments made by the candidate”, and the money or resources received by the candidates or agents from any source in connection with the election.

Although it does state that anyone who knowingly makes a false or incorrect return commits an illegal act, there is no means by which that could be investigated unless a report is made against a candidate.

Who backed which candidates, to what extent and why will remain largely under wraps, as is the general case in Cayman for any donation to parties or candidates outside of the official election campaign period. The public has no idea who most of the party financiers or donors are but they do know that lots of cash was sloshing around the economy over the last two months. 

The elections observers also reported on complaints from candidates who accused some media houses of an “immense increase in advertising rates” during the campaign, which “allegedly took advantage of the limited media space available paired with the high demand”.

No specific media houses were named but CNS is able to confirm that we did not inflate any ad prices over the election period, despite the limited ad space.

See Elections Law and election documents in the CNS Library

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Category: 2017 General Elections, Elections, Politics

Comments (32)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Campaign funding should be released PRIOR to the election to remove any doubt.

    It should also be required that ANY contribution over $100 be publicly recorded. Having a threshold of $10,000 in a single donation is stupid. The puppetmasters like Dr T are then smart enough to donate $9,999 as many times as they want with no need for disclosure.

    There needs to be serious oversight on money/goods flowing both directions…..backers to candidates and candidates to voters.

    • Anonymous says:

      Was Dr T fronting for C4C? Noticed there were no candidates under that banner but sure saw enough yellow, to be reminded of 2013 and their team

  2. Anonymous says:

    corruption is normal here

  3. Anonymous says:

    Check them all for Russian connections…

  4. Anonymous says:

    Why is the law that they are identified only if they make a single donation over $10,000? You might as well just ask them if they want to be identified or not

  5. Anonymous says:

    The whole issue is a swamp…and until it is completely transparent and the people offered bribes start reporting it to the police then nothing will change.

    • Sharkey says:

      800 frozen turkeys and bags of groceries and 2.5 million $, that’s enough to open anyone eyes. I hope that this opens the eyes of the of the Government and the Election Commission. They need to reform the Election rules and regulations.

      • Anonymous says:

        Sharkey, as much as I would like to think the same, this is Cayman…

        • Sharkey says:

          I think that the People/voter can have the Election rules and regulations changed even if the corrupted politician don’t want to.
          All you need is a Caymanian with b+++s and more Caymanian to follow him to the LA building early one morning before it gets too hot , and they starts their daily business inside , and tell them to work on this today not tomorrow.

          • Anonymous says:

            So, we shouldn’t do anything if its too hot? That is Cayman’s problem, not the solution.

      • Anonymous says:

        Are you talking about West Bay turkeys, it woud have been more appropriate to hand out goats.

  6. Anonymous says:

    800 frozen turkeys and bags of groceries.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sounds like a good investment for best job on the island. Oh the stories Woody Foster (a really great person BYW) could tell.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Start your investigation in XXX surrounding the cash and cell phone top offs handed out to voters to buy votes and fraudulently win a seat in public office.

    Just watch, the blind eye on corruption, nothing will happen and no-one will be charged. The law is a joke because it is never applied.

    • Anonymous says:

      What about the booze handed out during the lead up on NS, or the road side party that was held during polling day despite the sale of booze being banned? So free booze to the idiots and drunks who rely on their puppet master to keep them drunk or high, just perfect, Cayman democracy in action.

      The same recipients who were so vile in defeat, spurred on by a wannabe who keeps the poor and the vulnerable at his knee to do his bidding.
      I don’t like Ezzard or his poisonous brand of politics, but both he and his rivals were magnanimous in victory and defeat. Perhaps the puppet master could learn a thing or two from less muddled minds and then be investigated for possible direct and indirect corrupt practices.

  8. Anonymous says:

    They need to concern themselves more with tracking down the envelopes that are handed to voters more than the campaign spending. I personally know of reports given to the observers and nothing was done.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Cmon people. This is a non-story. It’s it’s using BS as lipstick on a pig. After the fact? There will be more lieing than a Bodden town public beach girl. From the ones that even bother to lie that is. Let it go, it’s just another ruse aimed at feigning first world civilization. Not our way.

  10. Anonymous says:

    The Supervisor of Elections needs to have personal oversight over this important topic,ensure there is follow through and this needs to be reported on post haste to the public.

  11. Anonymous says:

    2.5 million is what rumours say is approx what Dr Tomlinson invested in this election. Sickening.

    • Anonymous says:

      Probably not the first time in election history, but yes. If true, sickening. This does not reflect the will of the people.

    • George Towner says:

      That’s Democracy in bed with Capitalism! Dr. T. has every right to donate whatever amount. You can’t tell a voter how much he or she must contribute! If you don’t like democratic elections, then don’t live here. Move to a communist country or some other kind of government.

      And don’t go to the UK or US. The biggest money deals are done there too.

      • Sharkey says:

        George Towner, how would you like if Dr T had gotten all of the Candidates elected that he sponsored ? Then you would have a Dr T Government in the Cayman islands, not a Cayman islands Government. By the way I would have thumbed your comment down a million times if could have.

      • Virgin Jesus says:

        Communism > Democracy any day. This way you don’t have the uneducated voting for incapable candidtates.

    • Anonymous says:

      I doubt it’s that much but $500 – $600 thousand KYD is more realistic.

    • Anonymous says:

      It should be the last $2.5 million he ever has…..that would serve him right!

  12. Anonymous says:

    Does Dr. Frank have to submit his 2013 expenses first?

    • Sharkey says:

      I think that it’s good that the issue of the amount of money that one person can donate to one party or candidate is come to light.

      I don’t understand why it was not put in when they did the new Election Laws.
      I think that DR T has opened everyone’s eyes on that topic.

      Then I hope that this new Government takes care of this issue before they forget that it exist.

      I think that it’s morally wrong and dangerous for one man to invest into getting a whole party elected to the Government. Amd should be only allowed to invest a certain amount of money to anyone candidate .

    • Anonymous says:

      We’ll waive that requirement if he tells us who shot him instead!

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