Despite all the contenders’ promises of increased transparency, cash used to fund the race to select Scotland’s First Minister are expected to remain a secret.
In their Holyrood register of interests, Humza Yousaf, Kate Forbes, and Ash Regan have opted not to disclose their earnings or expenditures related to the SNP campaign.
Each candidate could spend up to £5,000 on their campaign to succeed Nicola Sturgeon and accept contributions from individual party members up to £50.
The donations fell short of the legal need for a declaration, which was £330 at the time the race was held and as set forth in election law.
However, the law and the MSP code of conduct also provide for voluntary declarations, allowing the candidates to disclose their funding sources and campaign expenses.
Ms. Forbes previously disclosed in her parliamentary registration of interests obtaining a £48 rugby match ticket.
All of the SNP leadership contenders used social media, videos, photographers, and spin doctors to promote themselves during their campaigns. They also held their launch and campaign events indoors.
The voluntary option has not been used, despite the election beginning with a dispute about SNP HQ’s secrecy over member numbers and pledges of better transparency in the future from the trip.
“While there have been no violations here, you would think the candidates would be happy to volunteer this information, if only to try to dispel the SNP’s reputation for obsessive secrecy,” a Scottish Conservative spokesperson said.
On Friday, 60 days following the outcome on March 27, the deadline for any statutorily required changes to the register of interests expired; however, voluntary declarations may still be made in the future.
Despite giving a detailed analysis of their expenses to SNP national secretary Lorna Finn in early April, the candidates’ finances remain opaque.
All candidates were informed that they “must complete a Statement of Expenditure within fourteen days of the election” in accordance with contest rule 8.1.
Travel, lodging, and food were not counted toward the £5,000 spending limit because the candidates attended 15 hustings across the country.
However, they had to budget for all of their other expenses, such as websites, video production, social media advertising, printed materials, and hustings.
Candidates, or their campaign managers, were also required to present invoices for any items costing more than £10.
On donations, they were advised that “candidates must only accept donations from members eligible to vote in the election.” No candidate may take a donation of more than £50 from any individual.”
The limits, which some saw as an attempt by SNP headquarters to tilt the election in Mr Yousaf’s favor by limiting publicity for his opponents, contrasted with prior Scottish Labour races.
In 2017, Anas Sarwar declared more than £155,000 in donations in his failed bid to lead the party, while the winner Richard Leonard declared a little over £64,000.