Mon | Nov 30, 2020

Big cash splash - • Rohan Chung tops election spending in losing bid • Candidates shell out $500m for parliamentary polls

Published:Sunday | November 22, 2020 | 8:27 AMRomario Scott - Sunday Gleaner Writer
Rohan Chung
Rohan Chung
Dr Nigel Clarke
Dr Nigel Clarke
Patricia Duncan Sutherland
Patricia Duncan Sutherland
Everald Warmington
Everald Warmington
Lisa Hanna
Lisa Hanna
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A Manchester Central candidate pumped the largest sum into his losing bid for Gordon House in the September parliamentary election, data from the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) has revealed.

According to the EOJ, roughly $500 million was spent by 132 of the 139 candidates who contested the 63 parliamentary seats. Seven candidates have declared that they had not spent any funds.

Candidates or their official agents are required under the Representation of the People Act to submit the return of election expenses report within six weeks of an election. Contributions received during the campaign period are also to be disclosed if they are above $250,000, with no single contributor allowed to give more than $1.5 million to an individual candidate’s campaign.

Candidates, whether independent or representing a political party, are restricted to a maximum of $15 million.

According to the summary of the declarations for the September 3 polls, a copy of which The Sunday Gleaner has obtained, Rohan Chung, who went up against the incumbent Peter Bunting of the People’s National Party (PNP), and the eventual winner Rhoda Moy Crawford of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), outspent every other candidate.

He spent $15 million and also reportedly did not receive any contributions during the period, which covers from August 11, when the date of the election was announced in Parliament by Prime Minister Andrew Holness, to September 2.

The biggest spender in the governing JLP was St Catherine South Western Member of Parliament Everald Warmington, coming in with a $12.71-million tag to retain his seat. He received $3.25 million in contributions, the EOJ said.

PNP’s biggest spender

In the opposition PNP, losing Clarendon South Eastern candidate Patricia Duncan Sutherland came out as the biggest spender, forking out $12.75 million over the period. She received $7.08 million in contributions, according to her declarations.

JLP Leader and Prime Minister Andrew Holness raked in contributions totalling $12.5 million. He reported that $8.14 million was spent. However, JLP North West St Andrew MP Dr Nigel Clarke raised the most funds, a total of $14.99 million.

In the PNP, Lisa Hanna received the most contributions – $11.27 million.

Hanna retained her St Ann South Eastern constituency by 32 votes after a magisterial recount, and recently mounted an unsuccessful bid for the presidency of the PNP.

Hanna, who was also treasurer of the party, has decided not to offer herself again for the post.

Mark Golding, the newly elected president of the PNP, reported that he did not receive any cash from donors, but spent $10.14 million.

Dr Peter Phillips, the PNP president at the time when the election was called, spent $10.45 million for the campaign period and had received donations totalling $9.25 million.

While Marlene Malahoo Forte, the St James West Central member of parliament and attorney general, had filed her expenses by the October 15 deadline as required by law, she did not indicate the amount she received by donors.

The seven candidates who reported no spending for the campaign period were Delroy Slowely, who won St Elizabeth North Eastern for the JLP; Astor Black, a candidate in St James Central; Don Foote, who ran in Westmoreland Central; Kari Douglas, who ran on the JLP ticket in St Andrew South Eastern; JLP St Andrew South Western candidate Maureen Lorne; Desmond Brennan, the PNP candidate who ran in Clarendon North Central; St Catherine North Central candidate John Henry; and St Catherine South Western PNP candidate Kurt Waul.

romario.scott@gleanerjm.com