12 May 2004

Increased scrutiny of contributions to election campaigns in American Samoa

10:13 am on 12 May 2004

There is to be increased scrutiny of contributions to election campaigns in American Samoa this year.

The territorial auditor, George Webster, says the treasurer and the chairman of each campaign committee will have to keep good records of who's donating and what amounts are being given.

This follows a recently-released audit of the spending in the 2000 elections which showed there were some apparent violations, and a change in the law to allow increased contributions.

Our correspondent, Fili Sagapolutele, says families often donate a lump sum larger than the amount stated in the law, which is made up of individual contributions.

"The auditor's job now is to find out for sure whether each individual in that whole family did contribute the necessary amount. He's saying that it's very hard to determine when it comes to Samoan culture because you have your immediate family, then you have your extended family that all contributes to one lump sum of donation."

Fili Sagapolutele says there have been some donations from families of between ten and twenty thousand U.S. dollars at the opening of this year's election campaign.

Individual contributions are limited to 500 dollars and companies to two thousand dollars.