Big money popping - Parties reeled in whopping $100m for Portland East by-election
The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the People’s National Party (PNP) received more than $100 million to battle in the April 4, 2019, Portland East by-election.
Some 10 months after the dust has settled, with the JLP’s Ann Marie Vaz emerging victorious, the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) finally tallied the respective contributions of the two parties.
According to the ECJ, the PNP received $47,761,005.00 while the JLP received $53,070,000.
The ECJ reported that the JLP received 21 contributions with requirement for reporting. The highest was one contribution of between $7.6 million and $8.5 million.
The PNP, on the other hand, received 22 similar contributions, the highest being in the range of $5.5 million to $6.5 million.
The by-election had a reporting period March 4, 2019, to October 1, 2019. At the end period, declarations of election campaign financing and the sources of funding became due on October 2, 2019.
The official figures appear to contradict declarations by the PNP at the time that it was being outspent 10–1 in favour of the JLP.
CLAIMS OF IMBALANCE
“How much of an effect that will have, I don’t know. We will have to wait and see. We are hoping that people will still remain true to their values even if they benefit and take the stuff, but there is no doubt that there is a significant imbalance between the two teams,” PNP General Secretary Julian Robinson had said.
Crawford, a PNP vice-president, had railed against heavy election spending at the beginning of the campaign.
“This lady said that she is Action Ann and yet don’t have a plan. Action without plan is failure. How come a lady with three helper a walk and a tek off clothes off a line a seh she a Action Ann? She is ‘Acting Ann’. Therefore, it is no surprise that big money popping everywhere dem go because the scamma dem deh yah,” Crawford said at a rally in Port Antonio, Portland, on March 3, 2019.
A GoFundMe account was also created to raise funds for Crawford’s campaign.
The account was started by ‘Friends of Crawford’, and they targeted raising US$10,000 towards his election campaign.
Candidates and contributors must declare all contributions of $250,000 or more. Under the law, candidates may accept a maximum of $1.5 million from any one donor and are only allowed to spend $15 million on election campaigning.
The parties, however, are allowed to accept contributions during the period of an election campaign, but the contributions should not exceed $31.5 million.