Chrissie Tomlinson Memorial Hospital founder Dr. Steve Tomlinson contributed more than $194,000 to 10 political candidates during the final eight weeks of Cayman’s 2017 general election campaign, according to Elections Office records examined by the Cayman Compass.
Dr. Tomlinson handed out almost as much in contributions as the entire Cayman Democratic Party spent between Nomination Day on March 29 and Election Day on May 24. The CDP listed $232.461.34 in expenses during that period.
The Progressives party outspent both, with expenses totaling more than $509,000 during the same period. The Progressives listed a number of donors who gave “above $5,000” in the last eight weeks of the campaign, including its own candidates Wayne Panton and Maxine Bodden, who contributed a combined $171,667. Mr. Panton gave just under $112,000 and Ms. Bodden gave $60,000. Both were unsuccessful in the election.
The contributions made to a political campaign do not indicate that the money was all spent by the candidates or the parties. In some cases, the candidates had money left over after election day, and in other cases they had a deficit.
However, the contributions listed give some idea of which individuals or businesses were backing candidates.
Any contributions and expenses made before March 29, 2017 are not reported in the campaign finance records. The reports must be delivered to the supervisor of elections 35 days after the general election, when they are made available to the public.
Although Dr. Tomlinson said many times that he was backing various independent candidates in the run-up to the general election, he did not state who all of them were when asked by the Cayman Compass.
Campaign finance records show that Dr. Tomlinson gave contributions to 10 candidates, all of whom stated they were running as independents: Ellio Solomon ($30,000), Catherine Tyson ($25,000), Burns Rankin ($25,000, in three separate contributions), Raul Gonzalez ($20,000), Kenrick Webster ($20,000), Kenneth Bryan ($20,000), Arnold Berry ($20,000), Sarah Orrett ($12,623.12), Laura Young ($12,000) and Austin Harris ($10,000).
Only Mr. Harris in Prospect and Mr. Bryan in George Town Central won seats.
Dr. Tomlinson may have made additional contributions to candidates outside the reporting period between Nomination Day and Election Day, but those contributions would not have to have been reported in the campaign finance forms filed with the Elections Office.
In addition to Mr. Panton and Ms. Bodden’s contributions, the Progressives received money from other candidates or former candidates.
Those contributions included sums from Premier Alden McLaughlin ($20,000), Minister Joey Hew ($10,000), former Minister Kurt Tibbetts ($9,000), Minister Roy McTaggart ($20,000) and Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell ($25,000).
A number of other contributors to the Progressives included Watler’s Metal Products ($5,000), A. L. Thompson’s ($5,000), The Security Centre ($5,000), Kirk Freeport ($10,000), Brook Investments ($10,000), JT Holdings ($5,000), L7 Holdings ($5,000), Consulting Services Ltd. ($20,813) and Rafiki Ltd. ($5,417).
All of the contributions reported involve donations of $5,000 or more. Political candidates and parties are not required to report campaign contributions of less than that, although some do.
The Progressives spent most of its money – $413,060 – on advertising, including newsprint, radio, television and internet ads, including $134,159 on political rallies and events. Other expenses went to campaign staff salaries and office expenses.
Unlike the other candidates and parties, the Progressives did not report individual candidate expenses. By law, no candidate can spend more than $40,000 between Nomination Day and Election Day.
The Elections Office indicated the Progressives made a “party submission for 15 candidates.”
The Cayman Democratic Party, which ran 11 candidates in the general election, did not file an overall party campaign report, but listed the specifics of its spending in each candidate’s individual filing.
Individual CDP candidates reported receiving between $10,000 and $29,000 in contributions during the reporting period. If the contributions were worth less than $5,000, they generally were not reported.
CDP party leader McKeeva Bush reported receiving $25,000 of his more than $29,000 in contributions from Radsk Ltd. CDP candidate John Jefferson Jr. reported a $5,000 donation from Junk Ltd. and another $1,000 from Crighton Properties.
Candidates’ disclosures regarding financing varied widely.
For instance, some candidates, like George Town South’s Alric Lindsay, stated that they funded their own campaign entirely out of pocket. Others, like East End’s John McLean Jr., submitted detailed letters from their contributors indicating how much money was received and when it was paid. Mr. McLean received $30,000 in three tranches from Oasis Land Development.
Other candidates reported receiving “donations,” but did not specify the source of the funds or whether they were paying their own expenses.
A group of international elections observers who stayed in Cayman during the week the general election was held determined there was limited transparency here in revealing who paid for a politician’s campaign and how much they paid.
“The transparency of campaign finances was limited as there are no requirements for contestants to submit, or for the authorities to audit or publish, reports on expenditure before [election] day,” the preliminary report of the elections observers states.
Commonwealth observers’ head of mission Steve Rodan said the group had received some complaints from residents that this allowed political parties to “pay in advance” for campaign-related expenses or services they received between Nomination Day and Election Day.