Wednesday, April 16, 2008

MPs' newsletters and the EFA

Like many, I'm disturbed at the claim from the Chief Electoral Officer that Heather Roy's weekly diary may not just be considered "election advertising", but may in fact be attributable expenditure under the Electoral Finance Act. The EFA includes a specific provision excluding material produced by MP's in the course of their duties from counting towards their spending cap (though it may still be an advertisement, and hence have to bear a promoter statement), and if an MP's summary of what they've been talking about all week isn't considered part of their job, you have to ask would be.

Fortunately, its not up to the Chief Electoral Officer, but to the Electoral Commission. And it would be nice if they would give MP's some solid guidance about what is and isn't covered by that clause.

Update: Someone has pointed out that it is up to the Chief Electoral Officer to determine whether candidates have breached their caps. Ouch. I'd still argue however that if they think an MP's newsletter is attributable expenditure, then they're blatantly ignoring the law.