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Opposition raises more questions about Commonwealth campaign financing

Senator Donna Scott Mottley
 
There is growing tension between the government and opposition over the response to its spending for the campaign for the post of Commonwealth Secretary General.
 
Opposition Spokesperson on Justice and Information Senator Donna Scott Mottley has challenged the response given by Minister with responsibility for Information Robert Morgan and is asking even further questions.
 
The firestorm erupted following the disclosure by the Office of the Prime Minister that the campaign cost the government $18.2 million.
 
The Opposition raised questions about the US$99,000 contract entered into with US public relations agency, Finn Partners, but Mr. Morgan has asserted that this demand is puzzling.
 
His response has drawn a sharp reaction from Senator Mottley, who said she was "stunned" by the remark. 
 
Finn Partners made the declaration of their contract under a US law known as the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
 
FARA requires agents or entities to disclose their relationship with a foreign principal engaged in political activities, as well as disclose receipts and disbursements in support of those activities. 
 
Senator Scott Mottley said while she understood why the filing had to be made, she found the context of the filing disturbing. 
 
She argued that if the donor is outside of Jamaica it is even more important to know whether the donor is "a government, a foreign company, [or] a person outside". 
 
Jamaica's Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister, Kamina Johnson Smith, had sought to unseat the incumbent Baroness Patricia Scotland as Commonwealth Secretary General. 
 
The Finn Partners declaration names Mrs Johnson Smith as the principal in relation to the firm's work on her failed campaign bid.
 
Senator Scott Mottley has suggested the government ask the companies to declare under the campaign finance law. 
 
She contended that since Minister Morgan is reluctant to share the information himself, he should make the request so the private company or companies that contributed to the Commonwealth campaign can make their own disclosures. 
 


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