(CMR) The Elections Office published a summary of candidates' expense returns in the 2021 General Election on Saturday, 29 May. However, some persons are questioning the truthful reporting of some of the expenses reported by the Progressives claiming that simple math should allow the Elections Office to surmise they need to dig deeper into the figures.
One source shared that when they consider the cost of electronic billboards, meetings, funding four independent candidates which the Progressives recently admitted to, live streaming costs, radio adverts, print media etc. it appears highly unlikely that they are being completely transparent. The source noted:
“As a candidate, I know what their provider was quoting for services. Perhaps they negotiate somewhat but even with that, it seems very low. Does anyone really believe the PPM? I think the PPM numbers are off by plenty and do not include the additional 4 candidates that Alden confirmed were given financial plus technical support at his post-election press conference etc. They should have been made to have individual records or amalgamated as PPM since “the Alliance” is not a registered party and there were only 10 PPM and 2 independent/Alliance right???? NOT 12 Alliance.”
Despite these speculative comments, the Progressives/Alliance members declared spending a combined $479,781.16 with reported revenue of less than half of that at $201.060.00.
Despite big spend by some candidates, it did not result in a guaranteed victory. At least four independent candidates were successful despite spending less than their opponents.
There were some surprising figures including Bernie Bush who spent 17% of his opponent's expenditure but managed to still edge him out for his West Bay North seat. Captain Eugene, also outspent Katherine Ebanks-Wilks by 45% and also lost to her.
The 2021 General Election saw 50 candidates contesting seats in 19 electoral districts across the Cayman Islands. Following nomination day on 1 March 2021, candidates had 45 days of formal campaigning ahead of the 14 April General Election. All but three candidates have now submitted expense returns.
For the reporting period of 1 March 2021 to 14 May 2021, returns submitted by candidates and parties detail expenditures totaling $1,228,657.09 and third-party revenues of $548,016.27.
Expenditures per candidate reported during the period ranged from a low of $2,940 to a high of $39,981.76. The latter figure represented the average spending across the 12 members of the Alliance.
Declarations of third-party revenue, inclusive of monetary contributions and contributions of goods and services, ranged from $0 to $47,103.70 during the reporting period.
Thanking the 2021 General Election candidates and parties for submitting their returns Elections Supervisor Wesley Howell notes that the current legislation has no provisions for penalties for non-submission of returns from candidates who are not sitting members of the Cayman Islands Parliament. “Nonetheless, I urge the remaining three 2021 candidates to file their returns of revenue and expenditure”, Howell remarked.
He added that he looked forward to working with the Cabinet and Parliament to progress the modernization of elections legislation, particularly in the area of Election Campaign finance reporting.
In keeping with the Elections Act, the candidate expense returns are available for inspection at the Elections Office, Bay Town Office Suites, 68 West Bay Road in George Town between 9 am to 4 pm on weekdays.