Today, in his remarks at the ceremonial opening of the fourth session of the tenth parliament of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, our President belled the cat and addressed among other thorny issues, the matter of election campaign financing:
"The second issue, Election Campaign Financing, is a veritable juggernaut that results in financiers arrogating political power unto themselves and thereby undermining the system of governance. Curiously, when political parties are in opposition they call for transparency in campaign financing; yet, when in the seat of power they conveniently neglect to address the issue. We must really get serious. The time has come when we must bite the bullet of campaign financing reform and introduce appropriate measures for disclosure, reporting and enforcement laws to ensure transparency and accountability in the management of the country’s electoral system. This will certainly build citizen confidence and enhance our system of democratic governance. The need for legislation creating a Contractor General to address the issue of tendering procedures must be considered." SOURCE
And on the subject of legislation which will recognise the final appellate jurisdiction of the CCJ, he made these comments. They can and must be applied to all the other areas which have been requiring attention and action:
We must no longer pussyfoot on any matters that influence the life of this nation because they affect the health of the nation."Why can’t we start believing in ourselves and our competencies? Let there be a vote of conscience, by secret ballot, on whether it becomes the final Court of Appeal or, if as Parliamentarians you lack the confidence to make that change, place it before the electorate by way of public referendum on the ballot paper. The upcoming Local Government Elections, in two months’ time, affords an ideal opportunity for doing this. We must no longer pussyfoot on the matter." SOURCE
In their report, "The Damning Power of Perceptions of Corruption," the authors analysed the empirical assumptions about American public opinion found in the Supreme Court's opinions concerning campaign finance reform. Here is an excerpt:
Perceptions of Corruption and Campaign Finance: When public opinion determines constitutional law. By Nathaniel Persily and Kelli Lammie
-- p. 126
The Buckley Court analogized large campaign contributions to bribes: “To the extent that large contributions are given to secure a political quid pro quo from current and potential office holders, the integrity of our system of representative democracy is undermined.” Corruption by way of campaign contributions is tantamount to corruption by way of payoffs for the recipient’s personal gain. In each case the donor acquires undue influence merely because of the money that changes hands and inures to the candidate’s benefit.
Buckley clarified that corruption extends beyond bribery to “undue influence on an officeholder’s judgment” as manifested in “the broader threat from politicians too compliant with the wishes of large contributors.” In other cases, the Court has described corruption more generally as “a subversion of the political process. Elected officials are influenced to act contrary to their obligations of office by the prospect of financial gain to themselves or infusions of money into their campaigns.”
“Just as troubling to a functioning democracy as classic quid pro quo corruption is the danger that
-- p. 127
officeholders will decide issues not on the merits or the desires of their constituencies, but according to the wishes of those who have made large financial contributions valued by the officeholder.”
Moreover, as should be obvious, corruption in common and legal parlance extends to actions beyond those captured by the concepts of undue influence or bribery. It includes conflicts of interest, graft, extortion, nepotism, cronyism, or patronage, and for the person on the street it may encompass incompetent governance, lying, excessive partisanship, or abuse of power.
In any event, courts have considered the state’s interest in preventing the appearance of corruption as arising from the desire to create a system in which quid pro quos do not appear to be taking place or big donors do not appear to have undue influence. In the Buckley
-- p. 128
Court’s words: “Of almost equal concern as the danger of actual quid pro quo arrangements is the impact of the appearance of corruption stemming from public awareness of the opportunities for abuse inherent in a regime of large individual financial contributions.” Thus, the state has an interest in avoiding these ugly appearances because “public awareness” of the mere opportunity for influence could erode public trust in representatives and representative institutions. “Congress could legitimately conclude that the avoidance of the appearance of improper influence ‘is also critical . . . if confidence in the system of representative [g]overnment is not to be eroded to a disastrous extent.’”
The state has an interest in combating the appearance of corruption, then, not because such appearances are inherently bad, but because such appearances result in second-order effects: public cynicism, alienation, lack of trust, and lack of confidence in government. If government seems to be for sale to the highest bidder, the argument goes, the American people become disenchanted with politics, lose faith in their democracy, and believe that their votes do not make a difference. Under this view, the government loses legitimacy when the public perceives campaign contributions as having a greater effect than do constituent preferences or a representative’s conscience on a representative’s behavior. SOURCE
"Let everything hang open.
Let government be totally visible.
Let government be totally visible.
The last, the very last, people to hide their actions should be the police and government."
Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.
Mweh ka allay!