For a Price
Former senator Fred Harris (D-New Mexico) reports on comments made by a colleague of his, Senator Russell Long, who once chaired the Senate Committee on Finance and now is a prominent lawyer/lobbyist in Washington:
The colorful Democratic senator from Louisiana, Russell Long, used to tell a humorous story on himself that contained more than a kernel of truth about the effect of money in Senate campaigns. He said that in one of his reelection races, a union group brought him a cash contribution of $5,000. “When he handed me the money,” Long related,” the leader of the group said, ‘All we want, Senator, is good government.’ And I told him, I said, ‘For a thousand dollars, you could have had good government; for five thousand dollars, you can have any kind of government you want!’”
Based on information from Fred R. Harris, Deadlock or Decision: The U.S. Senate and the Rise of National Politics (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), p. 80.
The principal issue that was facing the New Patriotic Party of Ghana was to overwhelm the country with bill boards, "empower" foot-soldiers, distribute party shirts, and a host of campaing activities that called for a lot of money.
The trip to the USA was criticised by party loyalists as uncalled-for as "the voters were here in Ghana" The only justification was the need to travel abroad to raise funds.
In a very detailed programme, it was announced that the presidential candidate of the NPP, Nana Akuffo Addo was to tour Norht America. Other branches elsewhere were craving to see him.
“Seriously if money is an issue we are ready to support but even more than that we have been able to negotiate with some companies and institutions here who are ready to support the campaign financially which is why it is critical for Nana at least to pay us a visit.”
- Kobby Annan, Chairman of the Holland branch of the New Patriotic Party,
Conspiciously absent in the detailed schedules was a controversial luncheon held at the Hotel Hyatt & Resorts, located on 24 M Streets, Nw, Washington, DC 20037 on Wednesday, June 4, 2008. The meeting was not announced, and the press was not invited. It is the secrecy surrounding this meeting that arose the suspicions of the Enquirer newspaper that raised the first alarm.
"In downtown Washington DC, two luxurious black Cadillacs, belonging to the Ghana Embassy in Washington DC, pulled up in front of Hotel Hyatt & Resorts, located on 24 M Streets, Nw, Washington, DC 20037 on Wednesday, June 4, 2008. In the first car, three well-dressed men in suit, namely Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Flagbearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Ghana’s Ambassador to the USA and Alan Kyeremanten, an ex-Ghana’s Ambassador to the USA, who was also an NPP Flagbearer-aspirant, popped out of the vehicles.
Moments later, another Embassy car pulled up in-front of Hotel Hyatt. This time NPP General Secretary, Nana Ohene Ntow, Ex-Finance Minister and later Education Youth and Sports Minister, Mr. Yaw Osafo-Maafo, and Dr. Konadu Apraku arrived in tow.
The occasion was a fund-raising luncheon hosted by The Whitaker Group, a company owned by Rosa Whitaker, the new wife of Bishop Duncan Williams of Action Chapel International, who was recently introduced to church members in Accra. Rosa Whitaker, who served as a Deputy Trade Secretary for Africa under both President Bill Clinton and Bush administrations respectively is a registered lobbyist for the Ghana government.
When lady Rosa arrived at the occasion, she spotted a blue African dress and set the ball rolling with an introduction of Nana Addo, explaining to the gathering that the reason why they had been invited was to help elect Nana Addo by helping him with financial contributions."
- The Enquirer
Coming to think of it, it looks clear nothing was left on a hazard. The very selection of June 4, was significant since it is a very important day in the calender of the then major oppositin party, the National Democratic Congress, as the day on which the founder, former President Jerry John Rawlings, staged his first successful coup d'etat against the corrupt Supreme Military Council, and launched a house cleaning excercise which led to several executions and abuses of human rights by the miltary.
Recent pronouncements by the ex-president John Agyekum Kufour in a meeting with members of NPP-USA at the office of Mr. Kofi Boateng, the immediate past chairman of NPP-USA, in New York on September 22, 2009, also gives credence to the fact that there have been illegal fund-raisng activities in the past:
"He said hypocrisy has prevented Ghanaians from talking about politics as a business and that any need for fundraising has been deemed as corruption. He advised that we should come up with creative methods to raise funds that are legal." (Please see: Kufuor Meets NPP-USA in the stories below.)
The fact the the meeting was held in communicado between a money-hungry presidential candidate and what Dr. Arthur Kennedy describes as a "group .. made up of people with substantial investments in Ghana and also of others who have an interest in investing in Ghana", made it all the more suspicious.
It is obvious that, unlike the misguided chairman of the Holland branch of the NPP who made no bones to hide the contacts made with business community in a flagrant violation of the laws governing the funding of political parties in Ghana, the event in the USA was much more sophisticated and cleverer in hiding the illegal fund raising activity with a cover-up.
The dangers associated with big multinational corporations in the USA financing political parties in a poor third-world country like Ghana cannot be under-estimated. The selection of so-called "business-friendly" governments by these corporations to help them win power are translated often in lower labour standards, a blind eye on vital environmental protection measures, and generally sacrificing the common good for special interests.
We call on the independent media in the USA to follow up these leads and do their own independent investigations and give the appropriate coverage to this scandal.
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