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Opinions of Saturday, 11 August 2007

Columnist: Boateng, Kofi A.

The Farce of NDC Raising $700,000 in Houston

Here is a simple True/False test that most people will have no problem passing.
On August 4, 2007 there was a function in Houston, Texas billed as a Banquet and Fundraising Dinner. It was held at the Southwest Hilton Hotel. The Guest of Honor was former President of Ghana Jerry John Rawlings and he was accompanied by former First Lady, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings. The two distinguished guests did show up for the Fundraising Dinner. The suggested contribution for admission was $100 per person. The event was organized by the North America Coordinating Council of the National Democratic Congress (NACC –NDC). All these are true.
The total number of people who showed up at this event were about 50 and certainly no more than 55 according to our eye witnesses (the author was not present). This is also true. But wait if the $700,000 came from the $100 per person fee then 6,950 ghosts were also in attendance and each also paid $100 ghost dollars.
False- If indeed the Rawlingses could swoop into a US city and in one day, collect $700,000 then this would indeed be the “mother of all fundraisers” in Ghana’s political history, at least among Ghanaians Living Abroad (GLAs). But if 50 people contributed $700,000 in cash, that would work out to an average contribution of $14,000 per head. I have been raising funds from GLAs for years and I can tell you, this is false. GLAs will normally contribute to funerals and out-doorings in unit amounts of $60 on the average but $14,000? That is a whole year’s college tuition. And why would people contribute that significant amount to someone who is not even a Presidential Candidate or a sitting President?
Mrs Rawlings is reported by the eyewitnesses to have bemoaned the poor attendance and attributed it to fear and intimidation that is preventing NDCers from coming out. How does this negative assessment of the event by its co-guest of honor translate into an enthusiastic $700,000 with more to come as the article boasts?
Mind you, we do not begrudge the “found money” of NACC-NDC but we know that just last week, the General Secretary of NDC in Ghana, Mr. Asiedu-Nketia, was complaining that the NDC party has launched a raffle to raise money in Ghana and they have not seen a dime. In fact they think the organizer has stolen what little money was paid and they are looking for him. Are NDC GLAs who do not vote more generous than those who in Ghana who do? Logic fails here.
Now let us assume that in truth NACC-NDC raised the $700,000. There are some questions to be answered by the NACC-NDC. 1. How are they incorporated in the US? 2. If they are a regular not-for profit under US Internal Revenue code section (501) C (3), then hardly any of the $700,000 can go to support a political candidate in Ghana or anywhere else- Sorry Prof Mills. If they are registered as a political organization then they have to file a report with the IRS under section 527 that should list every contributor who gave more than $200. Don’t we all wish the latter is the case so we can actually see for ourselves who gave what and clear the validity of this $700,000 claim? NACC-NDC, be careful what you boast of in public, the IRS of the US is watching and before you know it, all the executives will be in a very cold place. This is a friendly warning to my honorable opponents.
Our eyewitnesses tell us that most of the attendees were Nigerians, something that caused Mrs. Rawlings to ask: “Where are our people?” Ghana’s electoral laws require that only citizens of Ghana can contribute towards Ghana’s elections. Well, unless all the talk about $700,000 is a big 419 scheme and if people are not planning to brazenly violate two countries’ laws, sorry- Rawlings and Mills.
The entire story of the $700,000 raised in one night by the NDC featuring Flt Lt Rawlings is bogus – True or False? Hint: Some of the organizers of the event, when talked to and made aware of US laws- have distanced themselves and swear that someone has a personal agenda to propagate such falsehood for an undeserved gain and that they would be lucky to net one half of one percent of the amount reported. Second hint, no amounts or pledges were announced at the event. May be they received a big check in naira in secret and away from the cameras. Here is a more troublesome question- Is the $700,000 and fundraising event a smoke in our eyes to launder a lot more significant money from illegal sources into Ghana’s 2008 political contest? Wow!
NACC-NDC should clear the air before a higher authority does it for them in an unpleasant way.

August 6, 2007
Kofi A. Boateng, New York

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