By: L.N. Reklai
November 17, 2017 (Ngerulmud, Palau) A bill to reform election campaign financing and prohibit bribery of voters was adopted in its first reading by House of Delegates during its Fifth Special Session. [restrict]
The draft bill increases penalties to no less than $10,000 and not more than $100,000 with one year imprisonment for anyone paying bribes or accepting bribes. It defines “payment” as “transfer, distribution, loan, or other financing agreement, debt forgiveness or forbearance, gift, or other rendering of money, property or anything of value”.
The proposal limits amount contribution by individuals and by candidates themselves and prohibits contribution by foreign nationalities.
Contribution from an individual to a candidate is limited to $1,000 in one election cycle. An individual candidate’s total contribution to his or her campaign is also set not to exceed $500,000.
The bill prohibits employers from soliciting contributions from employees unless its general solicitation to a significant segment of the public. It prevents candidate in the executive branch, OEK or other state executive positions and state legislatures from soliciting from their employees unless the solicitation is part of solicitation for large segment of the public.
Private employers who seek office cannot use their position to promise or threaten employees to vote for them or support them.
The bill also states that “no candidate’s total expenditure in a single campaign for elected office may exceed $500,000.”
The bill HB 10-67-53 was introduced by President Remengesau Jr.
On a related topic, House of Delegates also adopted in its first reading House bill 10-70-55, to amend Title 23 section 103 of Palau National Code, amending election law by extending number of days required for residency from 30 days to 50 days.
Legislative findings in the bill states, “The Republic has a valid interest in providing a reasonable residency period that afford citizens an opportunity to engage in the election process while also providing Election Commission with adequate time to prepare voter records, investigate requests and protect the electoral process.”
This bill was introduced by Delegate Swenny Ongidobel. [/restrict]