NO CASH FOR VOTES, MARIANAS OFFICIAL WARNS

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By Jude O. Marfil

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, June 29) – The Office of the Public Auditor in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands says voters should not ask for money or other favors from candidates.

"The law is clear. Campaign contributions are supposed to be spent for campaign-related activities only," said Public Auditor Michael S. Sablan.

Campaign-related expenses include campaign meetings or rallies, fliers and advertisements.

Sablan said a number of candidates have come to him to complain about supporters who ask for loans or monetary favors.

"Just because candidates receive campaign contributions, some supporters think they have lots of money to spend," Sablan said. "So some candidates, not wanting to offend their supporters, give money from their own pocket."

During the election period, political supporters will usually come to the candidates asking for money for reasons ranging from payment for hospital bills to buying a coffin.

"It is prohibited to use campaign contributions for ‘culture’ and ‘tradition,’ " Sablan said. "We don’t want candidates to end up broke at the end of the campaign. That’s not the proper way to run an election."

During last week’s briefing at the multi-purpose center in Susupe, Sablan said the law also prohibits anonymous contributions.

"Contributions amounting to $100 to each candidate or $500 to each political party should be identified," he said.

June 29, 2005

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com

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