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Campaign expense reporting, Howell pushes for changes

Roughly $1. 3 million was spent in the campaign leading up to the 2017 Elections.
However, Election Supervisor Wesley Howell said that’s not an accurate figure, because of unclear provisions in the law.
It’s something he said he intends to rectify before the next election rolls around.
“We will continue to push for amendments that drive transparency.”

Elections are long over, but Mr Howell said he wants all candidates to walk the straight line accounting for all campaign expenses.

“Unless they reported in accrual basis, which I asked for, than a cash basis, then anything that was spent before the 28 (March,) anything donated or funded before the 28 March did not show up in their campaign finance expenses,” Mr Howell said.

This is one of the areas he wants to be fixed through Elections Law amendments he will be pushing for in the new LA term like including expenses incurred before Nominations Day.

“Things like that make it very difficult to do real due diligence on the campaign finances and ensure it is a level playing field across the board,” the Elections Supervisor said.

Last Friday (7 July) the 2017 campaign finances expense report was released showing spending totals from 32 Independents, as well as, The Progressives and the CDP.

The 32 Independents had a combined total of just over $600,000.00
The Progressives totaled roughly $500,000.00 and the CDP racked up a little over $232,000.00

Top individual spenders were Minister Hon. Dwayne Seymour and and Kenneth Bryan with $38,000.00 and $36,000.00 respectively.
Katherine Ebanks-Wilks came in with the lowest spend at around $2,000.00. She was followed by Maxine Moore with $3,000.00.

Mr Howell said One Man One Vote changed the pattern of campaign spending in 2017.

“My observation saw a lot more yard meetings and door to door as opposed to the big television and radio campaigns,” he said.

According to the report Independent candidates Dennie Warren jnr, Rudi Dixon and Kent McTaggart did not file returns.
If you are interested in seeing how candidates spent their money you can visit the Elections Office to view their returns between 8am and 4pm.

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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