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Ticket giveaways questioned

The Island Rumble is over and champion boxer Manny Pacquiao is long gone, but the event has sparked controversy on the campaign trail with political hopefuls claiming impropriety through ticket giveaways in the Bodden Town district last week.
A claim Bodden Town MLA and Financial Services Minister Hon Wayne Panton and Elections Supervisor Wesley Howell dismiss.

It was an event that drew thousands to the Truman Bodden Sports Complex, but texts and emails offering free tickets ahead of Island Rumble last week has irked Independent candidate Christopher Saunders.

“At the end of the day we have shine the light on these types of behaviour and let people know it is completely unacceptable,” Mr Saunders says.

He says last week he was told the Bodden Town MLAs were giving away tickets for the Island Rumble. Given how close it is to the election, he says that is inappropriate.

“What we want is free and fair elections and these little initiatives, these little stuff corrupt the system and we need to stamp it out this is not then time and the place for it anymore.”

But Financial Services minister Hon Wayne Panton says he and his fellow MLA Osborne Bodden did nothing wrong. He says the roughly 35 tickets given away were complimentary tickets they received and office staff offered them on a first come first serve basis.

“I had no intention of attending the event and I thought it entirely fine for me to offer those tickets to any member in the district of Bodden Town who were interested in attending. There is nothing wrong with that untoward,” Minister Panton says.

The minister dismissed the allegations as political mischief, but was the tickets distribute a breach of the election law?

Election Supervisor Wesley Howell says it’s not. He says it can’t be vote-buying.

“The idea of a gift being tied directly to a ballot paper that has not even been finalised as yet or a person has not been nominated is a bit of a stretch,”  Mr Howell says.
Mr Saunders is yet to formally declare his candidacy, but it is strongly believed he will contest Bodden Town West as an independent. Also just a few weeks ago the Elections Office warned it’ll be clamping down on reports of vote-buying.

About the author

Reshma Ragoonath

Reshma Ragoonath

Reshma Ragoonath is a Trinidadian journalist with 16 years media experience with a strong background in print with her most recent stint at The Cayman Reporter. She has a BA in Mass Communications, as well as, an Associate degree in Journalism and Public Relations.

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