Electoral commission stonewalls questions about whether all candidates have filed expenditure reports

Electoral Commission states that ‘examination of reports is ongoing’, to be published in two weeks’ time 'at most'

 

The Electoral Commission would not confirm whether all candidates have submitted their filings according to law, more than a week after the original deadline for these submissions expired.

All electoral candidates are obliged to provide a breakdown of expenses involved in their campaigns, with the Electoral Commission setting 2 May as the deadline for these expenditure reports.

Six weeks after the 2022 general elections came to a conclusion on 26 March, the Electoral Commission stated that the “examination of campaign expenditure reports is at an advanced stage” but the process is not yet concluded.

When asked whether any of the electoral candidates who are legally obliged to submit these reports have gone over the deadline, chief electoral commissioner Joseph Camilleri did not answer the question, stating only that “it it is possible that there are cases but at the moment the Commission is reviewing them”.

“At this stage, I cannot comment, and we would comment on that after publication when we have all the information at hand. I think that by the end of next week, possibly the week after, we would have finalised everything since the process is at an advanced stage,” Camilleri said.

“As soon as they are finished, what we normally do is we publish a legal notice while also making copies of the reports available to the public,”  Camilleri added.

According to the Fourteenth Schedule of Chapter 354 (General Elections Act) of the laws of Malta, candidates may not spend more than €20,000 per contested district and must submit receipts and bills to confirm their expenses.

Candidates who fail to submit their report on time or otherwise commit a breach of the stipulated requirements for such reports are liable to a fine not exceeding €465 and, in consequence of conviction for such breaches, may be temporarily struck off the electoral register for up to four years.

In a separate written response, a representative of the Electoral Commission told The Shift that “the Electoral Commission is verifying the declarations submitted by the elected candidates”.

“Once this exercise is fully concluded the Electoral Commission shall publish the dates, time and place where these returns can be inspected against the relative payment as indicated in Article 51 of the 14th Schedule of the General Elections Act,” the spokesperson added.

So far, the only political parties who have publicly declared their expense reports are ADPD and Volt. PN MP Eve Borg Bonello and independent candidate Arnold Cassola have also filed their expenditure reports.

Former ADPD chairperson Carmel Cacopardo had stated that the green party’s total expenditure for the campaign amounted to roughly €7,000, while Volt’s total expenses amounted to €1,043. Borg Bonello’s team spent just €506 on the entire campaign, whilst Cassola declared that his campaign cost a total of €3,283.

In its reporting on the 2022 general elections, The Shift consistently outlined serious issues that distorted what’s supposed to be a level playing field that should accompany general elections.

The Electoral Commission itself came under fire for its failure to adequately scrutinise early voting lists in particular, with the PN unsuccessfully attempting to overturn early voting in prisons due to the fact that prisoners who were not legally eligible to vote had nonetheless received their voting documents.

On 13 April, The Shift published an article detailing how the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) had stated that the government failed to act on its recommendations to improve Malta’s electoral system.

One of the main issues tracked by The Shift was the expenditure of hundreds of thousands of euros by both the Labour Party and the Nationalist Party and their individual candidates, which had led to the flooding of Malta with both physical as well as digital propaganda throughout the campaign.

An assessment of the amount of political billboards and streamers during the election had revealed that over 100 billboards and streamers were found in a total of four main arterial roads amounting to a total distance of 50km. At least 80 physical ads from PL and 30 physical ads from PN were listed in the analysis.

As for digital advertising, both parties spent a cumulative total of at least €670,000, with individual candidates racking up tens of thousands in advertising on their individual social media profiles.

Besides the huge sums of money spent by both of the major political parties, questions have been raised about the lavish spending on high-profile candidates’ political rallies and events.

In particular, government ministers like Clint Camilleri and Silvio Schembri, among other PL grandees, were seen holding multiple rallies with elaborate stages, performances, and even personalised merchandise and clothing for their supporters.

Multiple candidates were also observed distributing questionably expensive freebies, with Ray Abela’s distribution of Virtual Reality headsets in a primary school in his electoral district serving as one of the worst examples of treating in these general elections.

                           
                               
guest
1 Comment
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Mick
Mick
2 days ago

In this dystopian society, everything, I mean everything is compromised, so therefore there are no expectations where truth is a consideration. They don’t give a fuck, it’s free money and they wrote the rules, keep your nose out!

Related Stories

Get cracking, Clyde: memo 2 to the finance minister
Finance Minister Clyde Caruana would do well to watch
Portelli’s latest ‘flats village’ got planning approval three days before elections
A large industrial complex once used to produce tomato

Our Awards and Media Partners

Award logo Award logo Award logo Award logo