1682-1683 AN cash for peerages scandal

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The 1682-1683 AN Cash-for-Peerages scandal is an ongoing political scandal in the Kingdom of Ransenar concerning the connection between political donations and in-kind donations to the Imperial Democratic Party (IDP) in the year preceding the Ransenari general election of 1683 and the awarding of life peerages between 1682 and 1683 AN. Lax regulations and limits on political donations further enabled leaders and high party officials of the IDP to use the scheme to help finance the campaign, which faced strong political headwinds caused by the uneven economic recovery in Ransenar.

Following the unveiling of the scandal, the Imperial Democratic Party revealed that it has a large number of loans to pay back and that it had been very late in reporting donations of over €300,000 Ransenari erb to the National Electoral Commission of Ransenar. The IDP was forced to pay back the loans and pay hefty fines for its late reporting of campaign loans and donations and was said to be in dire financial difficulty. The police investigation was long and involved. It expanded to encompass potential charges of obstruction of justice, apparently relating to suspected attempts to present evidence to the police in ways that would direct them away from the Lord Chief Steward and his staff.

After a long review of the files from the exhaustive investigation, it was reported on 20.IV.1685 AN that no charges would be brought against any of the individuals involved. Their decision stated that while peerages may have been given in exchange for loans or donations, it could not find direct evidence that that had been agreed in advance; this would have been required for a successful prosecution. Notwithstanding the lack of any charges, the investigation had severely undermined the Lord Chief Steward, his government and the Imperial Democratic Party of Ransenar, leading to O'Callaghan's resignation as Lord Chief Steward.

Background

Timeline

IX.1684

  • 25: A story breaks in the Ransenari press that reveals that in the year leading up to the Ransenari general election of 1683, the awarding of the yearly Queen’s Honors favored IDP donors, key labor union leaders, and others instrumental in helping finance the IDP’s electoral victory that year. The revelations rock the Ransenari political establishment.

XII.1684

  • 14: Lord Chief Steward Sean O'Callaghan is questioned by the opposition leaders in the first Parliamentary Questions session in the Ransenari Congress since the bombshell revelations of a cash-for-honors scheme in the years preceding the 1683 general election. O'Callaghan denied involvement in the scheme and announced that he would appoint an independent Inspector-General on the advice of Congress, the first of its kind in Ransenari history. The Leader of the Opposition, Wilson Hart of the Ransenari Liberation Party, grilled the Lord Chief Steward on the details of the scheme. He also pressed for a separate Congressional Inquiry into the allegations.
  • 15: Ophir Percival Roger, Sean O'Callaghan's chief fundraiser for the IDP's 1683 campaign, is arrested en route to Goldfield International Airport, intending to take a flight to Constancia. He posted bail later in the day, and in a dramatic press conference in front of the Goldfield Constable HQ insisted that he is innocent.
  • 18: The Goldfield Constable begins an inquiry into claims that peerages have been "sold" amid claims of a link between a number of wealthy individuals who donate or loan money to the Imperial Democratic Party of Ransenar and those who receive a peerage. The complaint was brought by the Leader of the Opposition, Wilson Hart, after it emerged that eight wealthy businessmen, who had lent the IDP a combined total of €47 million, were personally nominated by the Lord Chief Steward for life peerages.

XIII.1684

  • 25: The Goldfield Constabulary questioned a serving Ransenari Cabinet minister, for the first time, as a witness in the investigation of the 1682-1683 AN cash for peerages scandal, the Minister of Breweries and Tourism Fiachna McGee.

XIV.1684

  • 7: The Goldfield Constabulary questioned Lord Chief Steward Sean O'Callaghan as a witness in the 1682-1683 AN cash for peerages scandal investigation; he was not arrested or named as a person of interest.
  • 9: The Goldfield Constabulary questioned Lord Protector and former Regent Ruadh Aldric as a witness in the 1682-1683 AN cash for peerages scandal investigation; he was not arrested or named as a person of interest.
  • 23: Businessman Grant Percy was arrested by police in connection with the inquiry into the cash for peerages scandal.

XV.1684

  • 12: The Goldfield Constable questioned Robert Landsbury, the Director of Political Operations for the Lord Chief Steward, in connection with the inquiry into the cash for peerages scandal.
  • 20: Maria Johnson, the Director of Government Relations for the Lord Chief Steward, is arrested by the Goldfield Constabulary on charges of corruption and obstruction of justice. She was later released on bail. She was the first salaried Government official to be arrested in the inquiry, which followed a search of the computer systems in the offices of the Lord Chief Steward by an independent IT expert.

I.1685

  • 4: Ophir Percival Roger was arrested again on suspicion of conspiracy to obstruct justice, while still on bail from the previous arrest. He was subsequently bailed.
  • 9: Minister of Justice Alexander Hynes obtained an injunction to prevent Ransenari media outlets from broadcasting a story about the investigation, relating to a series of emails that were leaked to the media.
  • 17: After a request to the Minister of Justice, the Ransenari media allowed to reveal that the emails were sent by O'Callaghan aide Maria Johnson to the Lord Chief Steward's chief of staff and concerned Ophir Percival Roger. Ransenari media were still not allowed to reveal in full the contents of the emails.
  • 24: Lord Chief Steward Sean O'Callaghan was questioned for a second time as a witness. At the request of police, the interview was not publicly revealed until months later, for what they described as "a desire not to intervene in politics". Ransenari media reported that the police had originally asked for an interview as a suspect and that O'Callaghan had said that this would require him to resign all his political positions. The police had then reconsidered and interviewed him as a witness, rather than suspect.

II.1685

  • 16: Lord Chief Steward Sean O'Callaghan acknowledges a "real problem" with the public's perception of the "cash-for-peerages" row but says he believes that nobody in the Imperial Democratic Party of Ransenar has broken the law.
  • 21: The National Electoral Commission of Ransenar fines the Imperial Democratic Party and the Ransenari Liberation Party for late reporting of all campaign donations over €300,000 Ransenari erb. The Electoral Commission says late reporting is "not acceptable".
  • 24: It emerges that virtually all Cabinet ministers have been contacted by the Goldfield Constabulary, asking them to declare formally in writing what they knew about the loans and donations to the Imperial Democratic Party. They also included such senior IDP figures.

III.1685

  • 10: In a letter updating the Ransenari Congress, the Goldfield Constabulary says the investigation has turned up "significant and valuable material" and that "considerable progress continues to be made". It is revealed that the Goldfield Constabulary investigation team has conducted over 90 interviews so far, most with persons linked to the Imperial Democratic Party.
  • 12: The Minister of Justice, Alexander Hynes, resigns. He is replaced by Albert Johnson.
  • 14: Another massive leak of emails from the Lord Chief Steward, members of his staff, and some of the donors are leaked to the Ransenari media, which further damage the reputation of the Lord Chief Steward and his staff. The emails reflect that the Lord Chief Steward and his staff were disturbingly close and direct with donors about the need for funding for the campaign. However, no new or direct evidence of the scheme was among the emails. The emails are analyzed by the media and deal a mortal blow to the O'Callaghan government.
  • 23: Lord Chief Steward Sean O'Callaghan announces his resignation as Lord Chief Steward in the wake of immense political pressure by members of his own party and the Ransenari Congress. The resignation will go immediately into effect after the Imperial Democratic Party selects a new leader who can then take over as Lord Chief Steward.

IV.1685

  • 12: The Goldfield Constabulary and the National Electoral Commission of Ransenar confirm that they had all the information they needed from investigators to decide whether to bring any charges, and it was confirmed that the new Minister of Justice, Albert Johnson, would take no role in the case, to avoid the appearance of political influence.
  • 20: The Goldfield Constabulary announces that it will bring no formal charges on the scandal, but instead says that a "careless and cavalier attitude towards the law, ethics, and the democratic process" was exhibited by the Lord Chief Steward, his staff, and key members of the IDP. In its reasoning for this decision, the Goldfield Constabulary said that "if one person makes an offer in the hope or expectation of being granted an honor, or in the belief that it might put him/her in a more favorable position when nominations are subsequently being considered, that does not of itself constitute an offense. Conversely, if one person grants, etc., an honor to another in recognition of (in effect, as a reward for) the fact that that other has made a gift, etc., that does not of itself constitute an offense. For a case to proceed, the prosecution must have a realistic prospect of being able to prove that the two people agreed that the gift, etc., was in exchange for an honor," and that "there is no direct evidence of any such agreement between any of the people subject of this investigation."

Aftermath

  • Resignation of Lord Chief Steward, succeeded by Willihard Cason as Lord Chief Steward
  • Cason wins vote of no confidence in the Ransenari Congress
  • Wave of national protests demand new elections and campaign finance reform

See also