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Big spenders - ECJ publishes election returns, reports delinquent candidates to DPP

Published:Wednesday | April 13, 2016 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell

The Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) has submitted the names of 41 delinquent candidates who contested the February 25 general election to Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn for possible action.

This follows a breach of the April 6 deadline for submitting declarations of election spending to the oversight body.

At the same time, the oversight body revealed in an advertisement published today that candidates received donations of up to $9 million and spent as much as $13 million on their campaigns.

Candidates were allowed to receive up to $10 million in donations.

Under Section 101 of the Representation of the People Act (ROPA), any candidate, or his agent, who fails to make a return or makes a false declaration in his return, commits an offence and, on conviction before the Circuit Court, is liable to a fine of between $20,000 and $80,000 or imprisonment for a term not less than three years. In addition, the candidate can be disqualified from holding any post of election officer for a period of not less than seven years from the date of conviction.

A breakdown of the candidates who have run afoul of the law shows that 19 candidates of the People's National Party (PNP) are yet to submit their election returns, while 14 candidates who ran on the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) ticket have not complied with the provision in ROPA.

Of the 26 independent candidates who contested the election, 18 filed returns, while eight are yet to comply with the law.

ROPA stipulates that a candidate contesting an election shall, within six weeks of election day, submit to the Electoral Commission a consolidated report, in the prescribed form, detailing all contributions/donations received within the campaign period.

April 6 was the statutory deadline for filing election returns.

Last evening, the ECJ reported that of the 152 candidates who contested the polls, 111 have declared election spending.

Of the candidates who filed returns, JLP MP for St Ann South Western, Zavia Taze Mayne, reported receiving $7 million in donations and spent $13.3 million, the highest of all candidates.

Marisa Dalrymple Philibert, MP for Trelawny Southern, said she received no donations but spent $11.6 million during the election campaign.

The JLP's Dr Christopher Tufton spent $9 million, the same amount he received through donations.

The PNP's Imani Duncan-Price, who ran against the JLP's Juliet Holness, spent $9.4 million, while receiving $2.2 million in donations, while her sister, Patricia Duncan-Sutherland, who ran in Clarendon South Eastern, spent $9.8 million having received a similar amount in donations.

Dr Fenton Ferguson, of St Thomas Eastern, reported receiving no donations but spent $9.2 million.

At the lower end, however, the JLP's Pearnel Charles Sr said he spent $50,000 on his successful campaign against the PNP's Desmond Brennan.

The ECJ noted that the PNP's Denise Daley, St Catherine Eastern MP, and Dwight Peccoo, who challenged her for the constituency, both met the deadline for submitting their election returns but at the time of this report did not submit documents to the Office of the Director of Elections.