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Winning an entire by-election without spending even a penny from your own pocket? Ask JLP candidate Ann-Marie Vaz how. The Labour Party has now come to her defence saying they footed the full expenses and she did not have to spend anything on her end. This may sound incredible to some, especially considering that her opponent, the PNP’s Damion Crawford, claims he spent close to $5 million! Vaz won the by-election held in April for the Portland Eastern constituency and Crawford lost.
JLP Claims it is Perfectly Legal
The controversy arose after the election expense details were filed by the candidates and have since been disclosed to the public by the Electoral Commission of Jamaica. The Commission allows the candidates six months after the elections are concluded to file the details of the amounts they have used on various campaign-related expenses. This is done in order to ensure the candidates have not spent huge sums to unduly influence the voters in any manner.
The Commission may even inquire into the details if it is not satisfied with the report submitted on the expenses incurred. These are part of running a free and fair election and to have checks and balances in a democracy where people’s power is supreme. There is a separate legislation for this, the Election Financing Campaign Legislation and Regulations 2017.
The Jamaican Labour Party has now issued a statement explaining that within the existing laws, it is perfectly acceptable for a political party to bear the complete expenses of a candidate in an election and there is nothing wrong in the ‘Nil’ report filed by Ann-Marie Vaz.
Part of Election Strategy that Paid Off
The statement issued by the JLP with regard to the poll expenses of the party’s candidate, Ann-Marie Vaz, for the by-election in Portland Eastern mentions that the party felt that by assuming the full responsibility for all the expenses related to the campaign, they were freeing Ms. Vaz to concentrate on the campaign. This appears to be part of a strategy and it appears to have worked in favour of the party. Vaz won the election defeating the “safe seat” candidate, PNP’s candidate Damion Crawford.
JLP says it has followed all legal provisions and will abide by them if any more details are called for by the Electoral Commission. It aas pointed out in the statement that the elections expenses submission is not due till October as per the Act.