Election returns reveal few political donors

| 02/06/2021 | 34 Comments
Cayman News Service
Alden McLaughlin on the 2021 campaign trail, with Roy McTaggart seated

(CNS): The candidates’ financial returns only reveal a snapshot of who gave what to whom during the recent election campaign. The ‘Alliance’, a combination of the Progressives and four independent candidates, reported the most income from larger donors but only cash payments of $5,000 or more have to be declared. The returns show that the PPM and the four ‘independents’ received about CI$200,000 from big donors, including CI$41,000 from Uncle Clem and $41,000 from an offshore entity, Alpha Carta, registered with Cayman Management at Strathvale House on North Church Street. Funds were also received from development companies TAG, which gave CI$27,500, and Crighton, which gave $12,000.

The party leader, Roy McTaggart, contributed $10,000 to the campaign. Austin Harris, who ran as an independent but on the PPM/Alliance ticket, appears to have donated his own campaign finances of $27,000. However, the original source of the money from Harris has been obscured as a result of how the former government members were allowed to file their returns.

The remaining $45,000 in donations came from single contributions of less than $5,000. However, the PPM spent almost $480,000 on the entire campaign, and it is understood that the balance of $280,000 came from existing party coffers collected before the campaign began or from individual candidates spending their own money on their own campaigns.

Most other candidates running as independents self-funded their campaigns and filed separately, even those who they ran in groups or teams. Ezzard Miller was the only other candidate to run on a party ticket, but as the only candidate in that party, his expenses of $27,000 were well within the limits. He received just $6,000 in separate donations.

Andre Ebanks raised $47,103.70 for his campaign, which was almost $13,000 more than he spent. Five donors each contributed $8,000: Jonathan Green, Aristos Galatopoulos, Michael Richardson, Tim and Ann Frawley (all of whom work at Maples) and Pamela Fowler. He also collected $7,100 in single donations under $5,000.

Issac Rankine said he received eight donations of less than $5,000 and one donation from his brother of around $8,000. Rankine is one of three candidates now serving in the PACT government who were reportedly given cash and services in kind by the Progressives, as well as political campaign advice and support.

The chairman of the PPM party, Alden McLaughlin MP, made that claim at a press briefing last month, but none of the independents recorded any donations from the Progressives. Jay Ebanks, who is believed to be another of those helped by the PPM, recorded no donations at all.

Both Heather Bodden and Osbourne Bodden who campaigned on a ticket with Wayne Panton also revealed that they had received donations from Panton to cover the cost of their campaigns of around $38,000 each.

Given that candidates are only required to report their spending and donations received in the 45 days of the official campaign, which this year began on 1 March, and are only required to reveal the source of individual donations of CI$5,000 or more, the details surrounding what money is going into and out of politics is already opaque. But the rules regarding submissions for parties is making things even less transparent.

Wesley Howell, the supervisor of elections, told CNS that the law only “loosely defines a political party” as a group of candidates who have united to contest an election. “Notably, that definition does not include a requirement for the political party to be registered,” he said, responding to questions from CNS about how the Progressives were able to file their election finance returns as The Alliance. 

“The Alliance group were able to file as a political party because of that definition,” Howell told us, noting that the law provides for the registration of political parties but it does not mandate it.

The requirements around financing are equally loose. Howell explained that the law does not explicitly require candidates expense returns to be submitted in compliance with an accrual accounting standard and candidates can file under a party and not as individuals.

“Political parties, even registered ones, have legally no obligation under the Elections Act to account for, or report on, any income or expenditure incurred outside of the campaign finance reporting period between Nomination Day and General Election Day,” he said. “I continue to advocate for legislative amendments to the Elections Act to improve the campaign finance reporting requirements to bring additional transparency to campaign finance in Cayman Islands Elections.”

The records are now open for public inspection at the Elections Office, where CNS viewed the documents this week. However, we were not permitted to copy any of the records to post for readers.

See the summary of the 2021 Candidate Election Expense Returns in the CNS Library.


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Category: 2021 General Elections, Elections, Politics

Comments (34)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Why is this even a question? This is a standard democratic process – nothing to see here. So what! A few people who happen to work for the same company decided to support the candidate of their choosing – what’s wrong with that? Ahhhh Cayman, always looking for something to talk about or something nefarious and shady…. Surely people in other offices chewed the fat around election time and those with means supported those they felt were the best option. Seems to me that the focus should be on HOW the reporting process and laws around campaign donations should be better policed and improved and less on which private citizens chose to support candidates. How would you like having your name blasted publicly for wanting to help a good candidate get their message out there? Andre was and is an excellent choice and the support from the community was resounding – he is a VERY honorable individual and there’s not a soul on Earth that can drag his name through the mud. So, good on those who helped him out!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Well, given that they only have to disclose funds received from March 1st….they just make sure big donations come in prior to that.

    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t disclose the identity of donations under $5K either. So if you are a major developer with say 20 shelf companies your can put a $100k in there no problem. To say nothing of individual candidates making their own donations with no indication of how they can afford it. The disparity between this and the money laundering regulations is unbelievable.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Whatever the law says about ‘parties’ and how it’s defined under the law, the constitution is very clear on what a party is. A party is defined as a group of candidates who have united to contest an election, under the constitution! It’s fair to say something went very wrong from a constitutional perspective and from an electors perspective. Hopefully lessons learned and we can and must fix our laws and our constitution accordingly.

    • Anonymous says:

      To 10.38 Can you point us to the Section and subsection of the Constitution that defines parties.

      • Anonymous says:

        Dont worry it is in the constitution and it is the reason why the constitution refers to parties throughout.

      • Anonymous says:

        Section 124 – Interpretation – contains definitions

        ““political party” means a group of persons who have united to contest election for membership
        of the Legislative Assembly”

        You’re welcome

  4. Anonymous says:

    Can’t wait to hear MaplesBoy Andre’s take on Wayne’s legal practitioners bill.

    • Anonymous says:

      Andre is nobody’s Boy. He is a man, and a fine one at that.

      • Anonymous says:

        Even I am curious about why so many persons from Maples backed Andre. It does raise eyebrows. He is formerly walkers do it does beg the question, why?

        • Anonymous says:

          Why is this even a question? This is a standard democratic process – nothing to see here. So what! A few people who happen to work for the same company decided to support the candidate of their choosing – what’s wrong with that? Ahhhh Cayman, always looking for something to talk about or something nefarious and shady…. Surely people in other offices chewed the fat around election time and those with means supported those they felt were the best option. Seems to me that the focus should be on HOW the reporting process and laws around campaign donations should be better policed and improved and less on which private citizens chose to support candidates. How would you like having your name blasted publicly for wanting to help a good candidate get their message out there? Andre was and is an excellent choice and the support from the community was resounding – he is a VERY honorable individual and there’s not a soul on Earth that can drag his name through the mud. So, good on those who helped him out!

  5. Anonymous says:

    I wonder if the Premier helped any candidates out ? The sudden loyalty the day after displayed by the PACT bunch doesn’t just happen organically.

    • Anonymous says:

      It happens when they realise they would get a cabinet seat with Wayne and a back bench with Alden.

      • Anonymous says:

        Quite right.
        Why be an inexperienced MP, when for even more money you can be a clueless Minister.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Politicians who were not re-elected got a $30,000.00 KYD wave-off payout. So even, if they put in their own monies then say, people like Austin Harris gets it back plus an additional 3k. Hopefully, such people use their win falls better than they did the public’s purse or any other monies for that matter.

    The rest I will not begin to comment on as there is too much sh** piled high to sweep through and I do not have the time, energy, or willingness to uncover what may or may not be Cayman’s best-kept secret term after term.

  7. Anonymous says:

    All those donations that the Progressives got and still couldn’t win the government,now that is what you call Peoples Power.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Everything is cayman that is supposed to be transparent is complete bollocks. Are there any honest politicians on this island?

    • Anonymous says:

      I would say exposing the names of people who made donations is pretty transparent, not to say an embarrassment to the donors.
      Couldn’t help noticing the PPM bashing still goes on.
      Why not tell us who financed the Honorable Speaker’s campaign..?

      • Anonymous says:

        Hardly a embarrassment given they knew the $5K disclosure rule before they donated. And as for transparency, how is funds declared as self funded by candidates who are clearly not wealthy credible, let alone funds donated by an offshore corporation whose beneficial owners are completely unknown?

  9. Banana Republican says:

    The observers report is a sham and merely a tick the box exercise to cover the Governor’s behind. The report and recommendations do not reflect the reality of the political process in the Caymans. The campaign financial returns including expenditures and financing of campaigns have been excluded from the report demonstrates this is all a big sham to pretend everything is fine and dandy down here. The pretense that everything is fine is precisely why these islands are doomed because no one in authority can afford for the public to know the truth. Protecting the lies is the soup du jour of the Caymans. This place is a banana republic without the bananas.

    https://caymannewsservice.com/2021/06/political-financing-ready-for-reform/

    • Anonymous says:

      To 6:17pm: there is no such thing as “the Caymans”. If you are here, something is of benefit to you or you would be elsewhere and if you are elsewhere, you are wishing you were here. Either way, you like this “banana republic” so show respect.

      • EYES WIDE SHUT says:

        Cayman politics is a very corrupt place financed by wealthy carpet baggers that control politicians and the political parties. The corruption at the highest levels of the civil service is just as bad. How can Governor Roper allow such blatant abuses and fraudulent financial filings to go unchallenged and expect us to think that Cayman is any different from other Caribbean islands?

        • Anonymous says:

          #freeanwar

        • Smal Acee says:

          Can’t tell where you from, btw I from ya! This crap shoudnt be happening here people just criticizing because they have nothing to do.? Go get a life will ya and don’t give me that high and mighty spiel because it na cutting it. If you don’t like what is say lump it or meet me by the lil dock tomorrow snd we’ll settle this. 🧐

    • Anonymous says:

      The Caymans. LOL. Oh you trolls can’t help yourselves can you?

      • Anonymous says:

        Yup, “the caymans”, “down here”, North American
        “du jour” Canadian… bitter about something for sure.

  10. Anonymous says:

    If anybody believes those returns I have beachfront land in West Virginia to sell you. It is disgraceful that there will be no investigations and charges for filing false returns as elected representatives of the LA

  11. Anonymous says:

    I’m pretty sure the prominent business families in Cayman donated to the PPM wagon.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Maples run things!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Pam Fowler’s husband also works at Maples.

    Wonder if Andre might have a word with CIMA…

  14. BLVCKLISTED says:

    “Political parties, even registered ones, have legally no obligation under the Elections Act to account for, or report on, any income or expenditure incurred outside of the campaign finance reporting period between Nomination Day and General Election Day,” he said.

    wow………………………… lol.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Looks like they can file what they want…we will never know the real figure.

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