There was an article dated June 11 by Nick Corasaniti in the New York Times titled, “Ending Secret ‘Dark Money’ donations in New Jersey.” New Jersey’s initiative is Guyana’s stubborn problem, one that remains unaddressed.
The writer posited that there is “a constellation of advocacy groups…that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money without disclosing their donors, a so-called dark money system that…has an unhealthy influence on elections…” He goes on to say that, “New Jersey is joining…New York City and California…and forcing them to publicly disclose the names of their donors.”
In the big, sophisticated metropolises, there are these advocacy groups, these anonymous money shelters, usually secretive billionaires and corporate interests.
In Guyana, which is a cash-intensive society, continuing reports are of multiple individuals doling out huge sums (think many millions) into political coffers, without traceability or accountability by either receiver or giver.
A major part of Guyana’s problem is that there is virtually no meaningful legislation: not for campaign-related donations, not for regular political donations. It could be argued that there is first disinterest and then resistance to possible corrective legislation; or anything relative to transparency as to funding by individuals, group, and amounts. There is deliberate sloth and haze.
Contrariwise, furious debate rages in New Jersey and across America about so-called “dark money”. New Jersey State Democrat, Tom Singleton, indicated that “dark money groups…have been operating in the shadows spending large sums of money from undisclosed sources to influence the legislative, regulatory, and elections processes.”
Matters are even more sinister here, with relevant questions being: Who are the people, businesses, and groups making large political donations? How much money is being given, and how frequently? Which political parties are the recipients of such amounts? Which supposedly clean governance entity is so untroubled as to accept cash from those in the shadows? Which political groups (if any) actually reject monies from questionable sources? And what are the sources of such monies? Since many of the local money men are reputed to be heavily contaminated with “dark money”, these are not only rational concerns, but very compelling ones.
Transparency and accountability are words bandied about effortlessly here; however, where is the application to political donations? Clearly, it is a right to support the political process with cash or cash equivalents, even a civic duty. And just as fairly, it could be countered, but only with the proper oversight mechanisms firmly in place; especially, in this corrupt society, which has considerable money laundering concerns.
Separately, why would such men with a particular kind of money – unearned and unclean – be interested in donating to political groups? It could hardly be asserted that such donations have legitimate purposes uppermost. On the contrary, a persuasive contention would be that such exercises are for interests that undermine the wellbeing of this society.
In view of the suspect reputations of many local contributors, it is inconceivable that any political actor would wish to be associated with any such people and their gifts. In fact, the opposite should be true, with the greatest distance placed between self and such givers.
Unsurprisingly, given the reality of a cash society and the absence of robust political money legislation, credible reports are of leading sides actively engaged in the sweetening money game. Stated differently, it is where both cash givers and political receivers cannot give and get enough of each other.
It, therefore, should not come as any surprise to regular citizens and the keenly observant that those who give are well positioned to move political men. Both political sides have made themselves available (and vulnerable) for such reach and manipulation. Conscientious and overreaching public servants can so attest; while many a small man have felt the brunt of the power of such men and their own insignificance when hard ball is played. Almost always, the little people lose out. With elections somewhere on the horizon, dark money entangles and disables.
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