Independent MEP candidate Arnold Cassola has published a breakdown of his campaign financing, releasing details about donations and expenses the day before Malta went to the polls.

Cassola said he spent just over €22,300 on his campaign and attracted slightly more than €9,600 in donations, while uploading copies of invoices for outgoings such as advertising services.

The itemised list of expenses shows the MEP hopeful booked adverts with news outlets, Google and Facebook, paid for banners and billboards and hired video and photography services, among other outgoings.

Meanwhile, Cassola’s single largest donation was one of €2,000 around a month before the election, with most of the almost 50 donations for values under €100.

The independent candidate performed strongly in the election but was eliminated from contention for a seat in the European Parliament on the 34th count. 

On Friday, one day before voters went to the polls, he published a ‘financial transparency report’ on his website, detailing his campaign outgoings and the donations he received.

He also took the unusual step of attaching copies of invoices for the various services he paid for.

According to the expenses shown on Cassola's website, his biggest campaign outgoing was on Facebook adverts, accounting for €2,280 out of the €22,333 spent overall.

In terms of donations, while most were for amounts under €100, he received two heftier donations; one of €2,000 and another of €1,000.

When contacted, Cassola – who enjoyed a last-minute surge in the polls earlier this month – said it was important for voters to know how politicians spend money on campaigning, stressing being transparent with finances was “the way politicians should behave.”

Noting that his expenses included costs for last year, Cassola berated candidates who held events for supporters before official campaigning officially began 40 days before the election – and, as such, without any obligation to report what they spend.

“I want to show everything I spent – even from seven months ago,” he said, adding any late donations or expense invoices that trickled in later would be added to his website.

According to election rules, candidates must submit their accounts to the electoral commission within 10 days of being elected, or within 31 days if not elected.

The issue of campaign spending, which is limited to €50,000, has proven to be a thorny issue in the past, with questions raised about the money spent on publicity events to promote some candidates.

In April, a lavish rally in Valletta to promote Labour MEP Alex Agius Saliba sparked questions for its size and extravagance, with a Times of Malta exercise estimating the event could have cost around €32,000 – almost two-thirds of the total budget candidates are allowed to spend.

And Agius Saliba isn’t the only one to have faced questions, with the campaign launches of Labour MEP candidates Clint Azzopardi Flores and Steve Ellul also raising eyebrows. Azzopardi Flores used a dome marquee for his launch event while Ellul rented out a large tent for his.

In the last round of MEP elections in 2019, outgoing Labour MEP Josianne Cutajar was shown to have had the deepest pockets, spending €47,042 - just under the limit allowed by law.

That year, Labour candidates spent a whopping €238,047 in total and PN candidates €190,046. Meanwhile, the amount spent by other parties and all independent candidates combined paled in comparison, reaching a mere €13,147.

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