Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Campaign Funds Scandal: PNP 'getting horn(e)'

 PNP Treasurer, Norman Washington Horne, made a report to the party's NEC which was "leaked" to the media. Horne's report identified challenges faced by the treasury which in his view played a critical role in the  2016 election defeat. These were:

  • Fragmented political leadership, multiple non-cohesive and disjointed campaigns being run by distinct groupings and individual members of the party;
  • Senior members in the government were actively sourcing funds from the private sector for the sole benefit of their personal campaigns;
  • Contributions earmarked for the Treasury were made to senior party members who neither reported or accounted in full, or even in part, for receipt of those donations;
  • The decision not to debate exacerbated the difficulty in raising funds resulting in "a last minute cash investment and infusion into the JLP." 
In sum "there was not one central bank but several  banks; some of which had more resources than the Treasury." Horne's considered position is worthy of note:

"Necessary funding could have been strategically diverted to marginal constituencies, which seemed to have required just a little more financial support to get them over the hump. Had there been a cohesively executed campaign, with the Treasury being the central bank and the recipient of the bulk of the resources, then it is highly likely that we would have won the election and been in government today."

The Horne Report was not accepted by the NEC; ostensibly because the Treasurer was off the island and therefore not available to provide clarification. However, the Report has revealed nothing that was hitherto unknown to political parties. In fact, candidates are often left to fend for themselves with little or no financial assistance coming from the Treasury.

Horne imposed a Friday, July 29, 2016 deadline for those balances to be transferred to the party's central account "so that it can be applied to all outstanding debt and the balance thereof to the budget for running of the Parish Council Election."

Horne's remedy poses more serious issues as the Treasurer would then wield awesome powers and
morph from being the Party's banker into the Chief Financial Officer. Such would be similar to that exercised by a Deputy President. Furthermore, there is considerable doubt surrounding the necessity for the Treasury to be the recipient of the bulk of the funds to underwrite an election victory.

The Real Reason

 In a piece entitled "Whither The PNP?". The Gleaner, Sunday   September 4, 2016 Arnold "Scree" Bertram, noted PNP historian, has shed some light on the real reason for Treasury  experiencing a starvation of funds:

"What is at the heart of what is currently perceived to be a scandal is that for the first time, the leader of the PNP has used her influence to install a treasurer and a general secretary, neither of whom enjoys the level of confidence within the party that such positions require. Private-sector donors know this and have chosen to hand over their contributions to the party officers who they trust rather than those designating themselves as official channels. In addition, very few, if any, of the 63 PNP candidates want either the present general secretary of treasurer to be involved in the receipt and allocation of campaign donations."

The Office of the Contractor General (OCG) has launched a probe into the PNP campaign-financing scandal

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