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Calls for campaign financing reform

The absence of campaign financing safeguards marks an area of concern for the international Elections Observer mission overseeing the 24 May polls.
It’s a worry Bodden Town MLA Chris Saunders shares, especially in light of the roughly one point three million dollars spent between Nomination Day and Elections day.
“You can never legislate principles, you can never legislate morality, but you can legislate deterrence,” Mr Saunders said.
The Bodden Town West MLA said he wants stiffer penalties to discourage excessive campaign spending and party funding in Cayman.

“Until we are serious about putting serious fines, until we are really willing to lock up a politician and jail them for being corrupt, I think that’s really where we would have to focus.

On Tuesday (11 July) the international Election Observer mission released its report on Cayman’s 2017 elections and among areas red-flagged for improved transparency in campaign financing.

“If this is something we fail to do then the people will continue to be, not just politically disenfranchised, but also economically disenfranchised because there are people waiting in the wings to see who is elected and quite frankly to go out and buy your voice,” Mr Saunders said.

Elections Supervisor Wesley Howell points out several loopholes he’d like to see addressed like the fact that only campaign expenses post-Nominations day must be declared and there’s no legislation requiring unsuccessful candidates to declare.

“Because of the short period for elections it makes it difficult for folks to play on an even playing field if they are able to fund their campaign before the nomination period and spend a good bit of that before that period as well,” he said.

“It’s now up to those very candidates who are now making the laws to decide whether the recommendations will actually result in changes to the law,” Mr Howell said.
The Elections Supervisor also said he has handed over all campaign expenses documents to the Auditor General’s office for review and report.

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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