Mac accused of abusing office
(CNS): The opposition leader has accused the premier of abusing his office and misusing public funds in relation to the UDP campaign against the government referendum. Alden McLaughlin says he has set out his concerns in a formal letter to the governor, auditor general, the Commission for Standards in Public Life and the Anti-corruption Commission. The PPM leader believes that McKeeva Bush has used his position and government resources to deliberately undermine what was originally a people’s issue and not to educate the public about voting systems. “The premier has not carried out an education campaign about voting but has launched a UDP political campaign to tell people to vote ‘no’,” McLaughlin told CNS as he pointed to numerous abuses.
He said the food and hospitality provided at the political meetings hosted by Bush in relation to the anti-referendum campaign compounded the issue at rallies where the UDP speakers have used public cash to begin their 2013 election campaign.
The opposition leader pointed out that not only is it odd that the government would embark on a campaign against its own referendum question, having hi-jacked the people’s campaign for one man, one vote, but it was wrong for the government to use public money to push specifically the ‘no’ vote without actually educating the people on the pros and cons of both sides of the debate.
The premier has both abused his office and misused public cash, McLaughlin says, because the campaign is a one-sided political push for a ‘no' vote and cannot in any way be described as an education campaign.
The UDP has admitted to using the public purse to buy full page advertisements in the local print media, the radio and the television (although not on CNS) telling registered electors to vote ‘no’. Bush said at the UDP anti-referendum rally in West Bay that it was spending around $100,000 campaigning against the referendum.
The opposition leader said that as well as mounting a full scale assault against one man, one vote, the premier has spent a lot of the time at the public meetings berating and criticising the supporters of OMOV and the opposition, as well as talking about his government’s general policies rather than the pros and cons and voting systems.
McLaughlin said the blatant misuse of government funds for political campaigning may also amount to offences against the election law.
“This is not about government using public funds to educate the electorate to help them better decide on Referendum Day but a flagrant abuse of office and public money to pursue the UDP’s own agenda, which is vehemently opposed to OMOV,” the opposition leader told CNS.
McLaughlin said that Bush and other members of the UDP were desperate to preserve the status quo because they believe they are more likely to be re-elected under the current system.
“They are not interested in what is the best electoral system for the Cayman Islands; they are interested in keeping their own seats,” McLaughlin added. The opposition leader said that he is writing to the governor’s and auditor general’s office as well as the two commissions because he believes the issue needs to be properly investigated.
So far, government has held three public district meetings on the issue of one man, one vote and each has been heavily dominated by UDP political rhetoric. There has been very little about the actual mechanics of voting systems and comparisons between single member versus multi-member constituencies and the issue of one man, one vote against multiple notes.
The platforms have been dominated entirely by UDP members and no other speakers have appeared that support multi-member, multi voting systems. The MLAs and ministers have heavily criticised the individual members of the PPM and the OMOV committee rather than the actual system, accusing them all of wanting to change the system so it would be easier for them to be elected.
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