The Office of the Public Auditor has presented its findings on the campaign statement of accounts filed for the 2016 and 2018 elections to the Commonwealth Election Commission.
The report details an itemized statement that indicated the cash or in-kind contributions received and expenses of a certain candidate or political party. Failure to meet the deadline carries a $100 per calendar day fee.
The report, which was released last Tuesday on April 23, was general and did not name any political party or particular candidate that either submitted late its CSA’s or did not comply at all. The names of those who did not comply were forwarded to the CNMI Office of the Attorney General.
In a letter to CEC executive director Julita A. Villagomez, Public Auditor Michael Pai said the report is about whether all the candidates and political parties complied with the campaign financial disclosure law. The OPA report was limited to the compliance of the filing requirement.
“Although the law does not mandate OPA to report its review of candidates’ and political parties’ compliance with campaign disclosure laws, OPA considers it necessary to report its findings to the general public and will continue to do so for future elections,” wrote Pai.
The OPA report indicated that, in its review of the 2016 general election, one of the two recognized political parties that have fielded certified candidates have not filed its CSAs as of April 5 this year.
Two of the 67 candidates that ran for positions for CNMI delegate, senators, representatives, municipal council, and Board of Education positions have also not submitted their CSAs and were branded as non-filers.
Five other certified candidates were late with their filing.
OPA said the two recognized political parties for the 2018 general elections on Nov. 13 failed to beat the deadline. “A review of our record for the 2018 general elections indicate that the two recognized political parties filed their CSA reports after the deadline.”
“And in the 2018 [general elections], of the 91 certified candidates, 13 candidates filed their CSA reports after the…deadline,” said OPA.
The report added, “The law is unclear whether specific CSA provisions applicable to candidates are also applicable to political parties. Some of these provisions include penalties for late filing and referral of non-compliance to the OAG for prosecution.”
The 2016 general elections was held on Nov. 8, 2016, with the CSA deadline set on Dec. 28 of the same year. An extension deadline was granted on Jan. 12, 2017, while the publication is within 10 days after the filing.
For the 2018 general elections last Nov. 13, which was delayed for a week due to Super Typhoon Yutu, the deadline for the filing of the CSA was on Jan. 2 while the extension was until Jan. 17 and another publication within 10 days after filing it.