Monday, September 1, 2008

The Lord Ashcroft Files

Mr Ashcroft made large donations - rumoured to total about $1m - to the right-wing People's United Party (PUP) when it was in opposition.

In 1998 the PUP came to power after defeating the centre-left United Democratic Party (UDP) and subsequently introduced several pieces of legislation financially advantageous to Mr Ashcroft.

They included a law giving tax-exempt status to some companies including Mr Ashcroft's offshore holding company Belize Holding Inc (BHI).

In the UK, he was a major donor to and Treasurer of the Conservative Party from 1998 to 2001, under William Hague. His tenure was marked by a number of controversies: he was seen to pay little UK income tax due to his domicile in Belize; and he was at the centre of a debate about openness and accountability of political funding.

Unsubstantiated speculation about his business affairs was concluded when he pursued a libel action against The Times. This was settled on 9 December 1999, when The Times issued a statement that "[...] Litigation between the parties has been settled to mutual satisfaction, with each side bearing its own costs."[8]

In 2004 he clashed with Conservative leader Michael Howard when he offered a £2m donation on the condition that it should go to his specified candidates, rather than into general Conservative Central Office funds.

In December 2005, he was appointed Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party.[9]

On 12th October 2007 he was accused by Labour MP's for being allowed to heavily fund the local Conservative organisations in marginal seats of his choosing. The Electoral Commission is investigating and changes to the rules are predicted.

During the "Cash for Peerages" controversy, on 31 March 2006 he was named by the Conservative Party as having loaned it £3.6m.

Lord Ashcroft has become a significant figure in Australian politics having been identified as the single largest individual donor to any Australian political party during the Financial Year 2004/2005. The Australian Electoral Commission reported in February 2006 that Ashcroft (who gave his address as "House of Lords, Westminster, London") had donated $1,000,000 to the Liberal Party in September 2004 just before the 2004 Federal election.

New Zealand:
"No," says Key, "But I don't discuss donations anyway. But it wouldn't be possible for him to give anyway - he's an offshore entity."

Whatever the purpose of Lord Ashcroft's visit, he was not very keen to be filmed by 3 News as he left yesterday.

So what was the white Obama and Lord Ashcroft talking about again? The white Obama said he met Lord Ashcroft for "inspiration".

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