Christie Sets New Paradigm for Hypocrisy on Campaign Reform
It is another spectacular display of PLP hypocrisy. Prime Minister Perry Christie now says he supports campaign finance reform. This shocking statement came from the man whose party rose to victory in the last election due, in part, to massive funding that allegedly came from drug dealers, ex-pat criminals and illegal numbers kingpins.
Speaking at a Parliamentary Conclave, hosted at the British Colonial Hilton yesterday, Mr Christie said the practice of politicians using money to sway voters has deteriorated to “repugnant” and sometimes “criminal” levels over the past 15 years.
It is not clear when Mr Christie had a change of heart on this matter.
Days before the last general election, then Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said he received reports that PLP operatives allegedly tried to buy votes in a Haitian-Bahamian community by hiding cash inside t-shirts.
“There’s a deep, underlying and disturbing pattern in the PLP,” Ingraham said at the FNM’s final election rally on Clifford Park. “While we in the FNM are busy trying to encourage all registered voters to vote and vote early, they are doing their best to try and influence voters.”
Ingraham said he was told that people were given yellow t-shirts with as much as $600 concealed in the fabric.
Mr Christie also allegedly made a deal with the devil, receiving millions of dollars from illegal numbers kingpins in exchange for a promise to help legalize their industry if elected.
At yesterday’s conclave, Christie also called on parliamentarians to decide whether they are committed to bringing about election campaign finance reform.
“The country has to decide, Opposition and governing people here, we have to decide whether or not we are prepared to put in place regulations that will govern the conduct of elections and persons who are contesting those elections with respect to the monies being spent,” the prime minister said.
“We have to be honest with ourselves here, brutally honest with ourselves in the recognition that practices have evolved in The Bahamas over the last 10 years, 15 years that are repugnant to best practices in a democracy.”
But it is Mr Christie’s own PLP party that has always taken the lead in creating and implementing the “repugnant” practices that have evolved.
The PM’s outrageously hypocritical statements appear to be another instance of “government by press release.” This is a practice, made popular by the Bahamas Government, which includes making politically correct responses to criticism from international groups. The responses are made to attract headlines, but there is never any intention of actually living up to the promises made.
In this case, the comments came a day after Mr Christie told the House of Assembly that two international groups which monitored the May general election called for government to create laws that would limit campaign spending.
The groups also recommended that government prohibit anonymous donations or international donors from giving money to campaigns and to create a mechanism to oversee the flow of money within campaigns.
These are suggestions that many Bahamians have been saying for years. They are suddenly given new impetus now that foreigners are the ones saying it.
Mr Christie’s remarks will temporarily appease the international groups which monitored the election, but as soon as media interest in campaign reform dies down, the promises made will be forgotten.
In an even more sick twist of irony, Mr Christie told reporters on the sidelines of the conclave that he knows of many instances when politicians have used money to buy votes.
“We are living a lie to just continue to allow this current system that we are operating under to exist, because you know and I know and everyone else knows a lot of things are happening in this current system, where you’re taking advantage of all sorts of opportunities if you’re the government, and it places people at a significant disadvantage and that’s not how a democracy functions.”
This is exceptionally outrageous since Mr Christie’s own party was caught engaging in this type of activity during last May’s election.
Christie added: “There are laws now that say that you shouldn’t treat, meaning that you shouldn’t do things to induce people to vote for you in an election, and clearly you can just list countless examples where the law is breached.”
Yet, justifying his party’s illegal election activities, Mr Christie used the PLP’s favourite defence, the “they did it too” excuse, as if he is not aware of the childhood lesson that “two wrongs don’t make a right.”
“…when I’m in power I do it and when you’re in power you do it,” Christie said.
“It is harmful to the democracy to be caught in situations like that, and that is why the observers recommended that we change,” he added.
But will change really come?
Christie said he would not force the legislation on Parliament but would speak to members of his government about the need to bring about reform.
This is as good as saying that the concept of campaign reform is dead and will be forgotten the minute the international observers turn their attention to another country.
In a typically wordy and evasive response, Mr Christie said:
“I’m hoping that it is understood that I am committed to initiating discussions with the political parties and yes I would like to say that I will be recommending to my colleagues a certain course of action with respect to the steps we should take.
“But I don’t want to impose it on The Bahamas. Like everything else we should involve and I’m hoping that there would be unanimity moving forward on the kinds of laws that will come out of the recommendation of the observers.”
That’s a mouthful, but it essentially means he has no intention whatsoever of passing any type of legislation that would change the corrupt election practices that are so common here in The Bahamas.corruption, crime, elections, hypocrisy, incompetence, PLP