July 29, 2021

The Editor Speaks: How much did our good doctor pay and why?

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Dr. Steve Tomlinson is said to have paid out a lot of money to help a large number of the so called “Independents” who ran in the 2017 elections.

Kenneth Bryan, for instance, who won his seat astonishingly against the vastly more talented and highly praised Marco Archer, had started his campaign a very long time before nomination day, and was backed from day one by the good doctor.

Why and how much monetary backing did he receive?

The answer to both questions is “we will never 100% know”.

The Commonwealth elections observer team that came here to monitor our elections were quick to point out the lack of transparency in campaign finance reporting and policing.

They stated, ”The transparency of campaign finances was limited as there are no requirements for candidates to submit, or for the authorities to audit or publish, reports on expenditure” before the day of the election.

Although candidates must file report of their campaign-related expenses between Nomination Day and Election Day this report doesn’t have to be sent in to the Supervisor of Elections until 35 days after the election. Then it will be made available to the general public. And are the figures provided by the candidates actually true?

There is amazingly absolutely no obligation on any state institution to actually verify the completeness and accuracy of the expenses and contributions declared. This was pointed out by the observer team.

Whilst there were complaints received by the observer team that contributions made to the political parties are not regulated at all, neither is funding, mainly given to the Independent candidates, from private individuals like the good doctor.

Even thought there is legislation, initiated in 2014, where the Commission for Standards in Public Life is supposed to maintain a “register of interests for candidates’ business interests, assets, income and debts” the observer team said the legislation had not commenced.

Candidates are allowed to spend $40,000 each to campaign from Nomination Day until Election Day but what went on before we will never know.

The good doctor was said to be “ecstatic” with the election result and very nearly got what he touted “change”, except when the first pairing of the Progressives with the CDP was announced he had to abandon that premise. The change was to go back to a leadership of McKeeva Bush that had proved so disastrous last time around. That second pairing also got buried because of the outcry from a huge majority of the general public, and the true Independents that got elected.

When I listened to Chris Saunders bemoan the new Coalition that will be led by the presiding premier Alden McLaughlin, say it wasn’t right as more people had voted for the Independents, he ought to do his sums. 60% of the voters voted for the two parties and only 40% for the Independents. He said the Independents won 9 seats to the Progressives 7. If you add the CDP’s 3 seats that still gives the Party system more seats with 10.

Furthermore, when the campaigning was going on the Independents poured scorn on Tara Rivers campaigning under the Independent umbrella because she was a government minister in the Progressives and the Progressives were backing her 100%. True. Therefore, she can hardly be added to their list of 9!

What has shown is what both Bush and McLaughlin said. How can a group of Independents agree? In the old days, before the party system took hold, the candidates united under groups. Before the election we knew who the groups were. They had met and were united.

What we had this time was one group being heavily financed by the good doctor and the others standing alone.

If that was the change Saunders is crying for thank goodness common sense has prevailed. He is wrong on everything he said.

I hope all the Independents thank the good doctor. It was very generous of him.

Why did he do it? For the good of the country as he sees it. Let’s leave it there.

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