Anti-‘one man’ ads targeted
The Cayman Islands opposition party leader has filed a public standards and anti corruption complaint over the funding of government’s “public education” campaign in the run up to Wednesday’s referendum.
“This is not a case of the government using public funds for the purposes of an educational campaign at the conclusion of which the electorate will be better enabled to decide how to vote,” Mr. Alden McLaughlin’s letter to Governor Duncan Taylor read.
“This is [a] flagrant abuse of the office of the premier and the blatant misuse of public funds to pursue the agenda of the [United Democratic Party] which is vehemently opposed to the principle of one man, one vote and the adoption of single-member constituencies.”
Mr. McLaughlin’s letter was set to Auditor General Alastair Swarbrick, Cayman’s Anti-Corruption Commission and the Commission for Standards on Public Life as well as Governor Taylor.
“We are simply telling the people what we see as the dangers of single member constituencies,” Premier McKeeva Bush said on Tuesday. “There is nothing wrong with any government funding a campaign to inform people of the position it has taken and to seek support for that position.
“Our campaign is nothing more than what Alden McLaughlin and the PPM did for the Constitution in 2009. We remember the big party at Pedro Castle with food and drinks. We remember that there was food at various meetings, all paid for by the Government of these Islands when Alden McLaughlin’s government was supporting their referendum.”
During one of the referenced public meetings in Bodden Town on Monday, Premier McKeeva Bush accused opposition party members of essentially pulling a stunt with the ‘one man, one vote’ issue.
“The opposition is running around trying to use this referendum as a springboard to try and get elected,” Mr. Bush told the crowd of onlookers outside the Bodden Town Post Office. “Who you see talking their heads off now, they will be either behind the scenes acting as power brokers or standing up on the platform.
“I don’t believe that Alden McLaughlin wants it because he well knows that his chances could be messed up in George Town if he don’t have Kurt Tibbetts to hang onto.”
Among the complaints made in the Tuesday letter, which Mr. McLaughlin said “subjected” the populace to a “massive no vote campaign” were:
Full page ads “appearing daily” in local newspapers urging the public to vote no.
Advertisements on radio stations and television urging the public to vote no.
Public funds used to hold meetings which “provide a platform for the proponents of the one man, one vote initiative and the opposition to be berated by the premier”.
The used of Cayman Islands boxing champ Charles Whittaker in an “extensive marketing campaign” to get out the ‘no’ vote, which included to the use of TV advertisements and the Damian Ebanks boxing gym.
“The foregoing appears to amount to abuse of office and misuse of public funds and may well amount to election offences,” Mr. McLaughlin said.
Mr. Bush said Monday that there were some “in higher authority” than himself who might wish the ‘one man, one vote’ system to fall into place.
“Maybe there are those…that want this thing changed up,” Mr. Bush said.
“Because when it’s all mashed up the governor, the auditor general and everybody else can haul backside and gone.
“They don’t care about this country, they care about giving me licks,” Mr. Bush said. “But I’m not scared.”