Sanctus – Following the criminal charges against former Sanctarian Conservative Party leader and deputy leader Kate Cruz and Noreen Islington last month, the Office for Parliamentary Standards and Ethics is launching an exploratory investigation into spending by all political parties during the 2022 general election campaign.
Speaking to reporters today following the announcement of their investigation, a spokesperson for OPSE said that the “criminal charges have suggested that political party spending during the general election campaign in 2022 was at very best questionable, and to ensure the transparency and health of our democracy, particularly as it pertains to free and fair elections, it is the opinion of this office that a general audit of all parties would, at this time, be beneficial to restore public confidence. This exploratory investigation doesn’t suggest there will be evidence of wrongdoing, but that it is better to confirm publicly there has been no wrongdoing at all”.
This is the first time since the foundation of the modern state that questions have arose over political spending in general elections, and it is the first time OPSE is doing a full, all-encompassing audit rather than specific canton-level incidents of inadvertent overspending or failure to declare donations. Despite this, however, all parties have welcomed the announcement, with a spokesperson for the Government saying that “a pre-emptive audit to ensure fairness in our democratic process will go a long way to restoring public confidence following recent revelations. The government welcomes the move by OPSE and stresses that as OPSE is an independent office, they cannot comment publicly further in order to avoid influencing unduly their work”.
The Office for Parliamentary Standards and Ethics is led by a Commissioner who is appointed by the independent Ombudsman for Sanctaria. In addition to investigating breaches of parliamentary standards and codes of conduct by its members, it is also responsible for determining pay for members of the House and the Senate through its independent benchmarking reports every ten years.
The criminal charges of misappropriation and fraudulent bookkeeping laid against the former leaders of the SCP has impacted public confidence in politicians, with the SCP vote-share collapsing in the latest by-elections, and 15% of respondents in a latest poll, up from 3.5%, sharing they don’t trust the political process.
JOEY SESSIONS, Political Editor