Financing and Politics-Nassau Guardian

In July 2012, then-Prime Minister Perry Christie told Congress that two international groups that oversaw the 2012 general election had asked the government to enact legislation to limit spending on campaigns.

The group also recommended that the government prohibit anonymous donations and international donors from giving money to the campaign and create a mechanism to monitor the use of money within the campaign.

Christie claimed to know many cases where politicians used money to buy votes.

While opposed to 2011, he was critical of the Ingraham administration’s failure to address the issue of campaign spending.

“It’s really important for election integrity,” Christie said, and the PLP is reviewing the legislation passed in the region “to ensure that not only sound recommendations, but also tested recommendations.” I added that there is.

No such law has ever been introduced.

Fast forward to 2017 when the minis administration of speech from the throne promised to regulate election funds.

It promised to “revise the Public Disclosure Act to extend its reach to include campaign finance reform and to provide provision for direct referrals to independent prosecutors.”

Again, no such bill was introduced.

Under the heading “Good Governance,” the Progressive Liberal Party, led by Phil Davis, also makes these promises in the pre-election document “Our Blueprint for Change.”

It promised campaign finance reform in addition to the new Public Disclosure Act, Code of Conduct Act, Procurement Act and Whistleblower Act.

Will PLP make these reforms possible?

Until almost the end of his last term, the previous administration insisted that it would tackle money in elections.

In January 2021, then Attorney General Karl Bethel said: National Review The government was nearing the end of its term, but the campaign still had legislation to regulate money.

He said political parties would need to properly account for campaign donations, and the donor’s name would be kept private and transferred to a special committee.

We were surprised that Bethel still claimed that such legislation would come. We weren’t surprised when the period ended without the bill being submitted.

I don’t think one would have been introduced if the then Prime Minister decided to run out of the remaining eight months of his term.

No government will deal with such legislative smacks in the middle of the campaign season.

Not a priority

Phil Davis and PLP have early terms, but even if one or two members of the administration are strong supporters of such legislation, they should immediately pay attention to election funding legislation. I never see it.

Alfred Sears, a former lawyer who is a constitutional scholar who is the current Minister of Public Works, previously pointed out that Bahama joined the United Nations Convention against Corruption on January 10, 2008. Administrative measures to increase the transparency of funding for elected candidates for public office and, where applicable, to political parties, in line with the objectives of this Convention and in accordance with the basic principles of national law. “

Sears describes the constitutional amendment in his private life as follows:Media etc. [which] You can predict the emergence of momentum that will affect voters.

“But the long-term effects of secret election donations stem from the general impression that the political process is corrupt and / or favors foreign investors and other secret donors. Will be. “

Sears, along with appropriate legislation to establish a public campaign financing system to ensure election rights, reduce corruption in political processes, and intensify competition between independent candidates and small businesses, is in national affairs. He recommended amending the Constitution to provide public funding for elections. party.

In Bahama, politicians have no incentives or legal obligations to make the source of election donations transparent, and many are enthusiastic about complying with public disclosure laws that require annual disclosure of personal assets and liabilities. not.

Election funding issues sometimes arise, especially during the election season.

Reported earlier National Review In the 1980s, a bill to regulate the use of money in politics was drafted during the Pindling administration.

The comprehensively proposed act is “to prepare for the registration of a political party. To regulate and manage political contributions. For public funding of elections and for accompanying and other related purposes.” It never reached Congress.

This issue was not a priority during the three terms of former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham.

When he was prime minister, Ingraham said he did not believe that election funding law was needed, adding that the government could not “legislate honesty.”

But Mr Ingraham said it wouldn’t be a problem to reveal the source of his political funding.

“The Election Funding Act is very ineffective,” he said in 2011.

“What they spend on elections in the United States is incredible, and they have an election funding law. You can’t legislate honestly. Dishonestness makes you dishonest no matter what you do. That’s why. People are killing others, even though the law says “don’t kill”. “

The pindling bill over 30 years ago requires that all parties have a chief financial officer responsible for proper recording, donations are placed in the proper storage, and financial statements are registered by the party. It is supposed to be submitted to the institution.

The bill also requires that if you donate more than $ 100 to a political party, party branch, or candidate, you must print the donor’s name in an easy-to-read manner, sign it, and only use a check in the donor’s account. Was there. A money order signed by name or contributor.

The Chief Financial Officer is also responsible for ensuring that contributions made up of goods or services are evaluated and recorded.

In addition to covering many other important areas, including campaign advertising, the bill also outlined many crimes.

For example, if a political party, party branch, or candidate’s chief financial officer registered under the law violates any of the provisions, he will be found guilty and fined $ 1,000.

Again, that was 30 years ago.

Former MP George Smith previously explained why the bill died before it was brought to the House of Representatives.

“It wasn’t considered a priority,” he said. National Review.

“I think we were obsessed with other things like social legislation, work programs, etc., trying to expand the tourism factory. We are trying to expand the agriculture and fisheries, with some diversification. Was growing the economy. “

Similarly, when Christie was critical of the Ingraham administration in 2011 because he did not advance to this issue, Christie did not address it in the first administration because other important issues were prioritized. said.

The house of glass

U.S. Diplomat observed on the cable of the U.S. Embassy leaked by WikiLeaks during the first Christie administration in 2003: “When it comes to the contribution of the campaign, both of the two major parties in the Bahamas are glass houses. I live in. “

Cable followed Mohammed Haraj’s controversy — a situation where political contributions backfired in a major way.

Iranian businessmen claimed to have been contacted directly or by intermediaries from “90% of the (Christy) Cabinet” for election donations, helping to renovate PLP headquarters, and in particular undertaking several PLP political rallies. ..

Harajchi denied that his donation (which is said to be $ 10 million) was designed to regain his bank’s license, which was revoked in 2001.

At a press conference, the PLP emphasized that it is neither illegal nor inappropriate for Bahamian political parties to accept donations from individuals, confirming Haraj that he has not received any benefits or promises in exchange for monetary donations. noticed.

Christie has promised to provide a complete account of Harajchi’s donations.

Of course he never did.

In the 2006 cable, US diplomats were “widely accepted” that the government delivery of convicted drug dealer Samuel “90” Knowles would lead to “withdrawal of an important source of election funding.” I wrote.

“As one cabinet minister has observed, there are no controls or restrictions other than the conscience of politicians,” the diplomat wrote.

“In addition, funding can be obtained from any source of funding, including international donors.”

Cable said the 2002 campaign earned millions of dollars from “suspicious sources.”

In his last term, controversial permanent resident Peter Nygård claimed in a leaked audio tape that he was PLP’s primary financial backer and moved to the application he had. After despising Christie about what she couldn’t do, Christie was on the defensive again. Before the government related to his Rifford Kay property.

The PLP under Davis was able to move beyond such a dispute and start anew with a new mission from the people last September.

Only nine months after his term, he was not active on the legislative agenda.

Davis said the failure of the Minis administration to submit an election funding bill in 2020 is more than the fact that FNM’s 2017 campaign was built on “empty promises and political convenience.” Said it was proof.

Davis now has the opportunity to show that he and PLP are different in this regard. Financing and Politics-Nassau Guardian

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