To elude the disclosure of particular donors and/or donor agencies, government’s spokesman Lionel “Max” Hurst said that political parties either accept contributions before the first day of the election reporting period or that they may have donors make contributions in several small amounts.
According to the Representation of the People’s (Amendment) Act 2001, the reporting period is stated to be as, “during an election.” This election year, the writ of election was issued on 27 February and began the election cycle which ran until 20 March (one day before the General Elections), putting this year’s cycle at exactly 21 days.
Hurst defended the donors who wished to remain anonymous saying, “if you run a business, for example, you don’t necessarily wish for everyone to know that you support the opposition.”
“They’re just being careful,” he went on.
“There’s no need to take a risk. So, instead of giving on the 27 of February, you give on the 26 of February, for example.”
Hurst, however assured that the political parties have to keep “books” that are to made available for auditing by the electoral commission at any time, but maintained that it is the public reporting that is limited to the election cycle period.
According to the law, “every political party procuring the election of a candidate shall, within six weeks after the announcement of the results of the election, file a report of the contributions made by individuals and entities to the Commission.”
Thursday 4 May, 2018 was the final day for political parties to submit their campaign finance reports to the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC).
To date, none of the political parties, however, have furnished ABEC with their respective reports. By law, there should be a $2,000 per day penalty for each party, “who fails to comply.”
Hurst said that the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party’s (ABLP) campaign finance report has already been signed by the party’s general secretary Mary Claire Hurst and has been audited by an accounting firm not named.