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Friday 6 December 2019
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COP: Campaign $$$ will come out taxpayers' pockets

COP leader Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan  - Anil Rampersad
COP leader Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan - Anil Rampersad

CONGRESS of the People (COP) political leader Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan has renewed calls for campaign finance reform, and predicted that the big campaign spending in Monday's local government elections will be coming out of taxpayers' pockets.

She was speaking with Newsday in a phone interview on Tuesday.

The COP fielded nine candidates but did not win a single seat.

Seepersad-Bachan said one of the challenges the COP faced was campaign finance, and while the two main parties (reportedly) spent millions, the party could not get to $100,000, and it is a serious problem.

"I hope people of TT understand when all elections are done – local government and general elections – they will feel the effect of all the parties' spend.

"It will come straight out of taxpayers' pockets. There are no free lunches where that is concerned.”

She said the parties used campaign finance to crowd out the other parties on the airwaves and print media, and the COP never had an opportunity to promote its message for local government. She added that the media only contacted the COP when there was a bacchanal, or after elections.

Seepersad-Bachan said the country has to return to campaign finance reform and equal sharing of government media, so that each party is given an opportunity to promote its message.

She described the recent election as more of a general election campaign, as there was no promotion of candidates.

She said because the COP did not have the resources of the other two parties, its candidates had to connect with the crowd and go to house to house, which was a blessing in disguise. She also said the party had too short a time for its ground campaign, as the COP got off to a very late start because the "decision-making was not there."

She added, "It is still important to understand the COP is still very much relevant to changing political culture and for independent thinking and objective contribution to the nation."

Seepersad-Bachan said the work continues from today and will continue to the general election next year.

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