November 26, 2020

Premier ignored Commission warnings over filings

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DSC_0896From TCI News Now

It is clear from last Friday’s (8) court pleadings that the Integrity Commission provided each political party, including Premier Rufus Ewing, with detailed guidance notes on their filing obligations leading up to the March 22 by-election in the Cheshire Hall and Richmond Hill electoral district in Providenciales and each party acknowledged receipt thereof.

One local weblog sympathetic to Ewing and the Progressive National Party (PNP) has described the subsequent failure to file the required notice of interests in government contracts by Amanda Misick, the party’s candidate in the by-election, as “a mind boggling act of carelessness and incomprehensible stupidity.”

090313021437--tccoatAnother well known PNP supporter has described those involved as acting as though they are kindergarten drop-outs who cannot complete a simple declaration.

On February 28, 2013, the Commission sent e-mails to the leaders and treasurers of each of the parties requesting them to confirm that they had delivered the guidance notes to their respective candidates standing for the by-election. The treasurers of each party confirmed that their respective candidates were in possession of the guidance notes.

However, by the March 1 deadline for filing notices under section 49(1)(f) of the constitution (interests in government contracts), the Commission had received only one such notice – a “nil return” from Oral Selver, the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) candidate for the by-election.

On March 4, three days after the deadline, the Integrity Commission received a faxed notice from the PNP candidate Amanda Misick, along with an emailed copy of the same notice from Dawn Perry (Ewing’s wife).

imagesLater the same day, the Commission received a series of emails from Ewing himself, the last of which, late at night on March 4, attached a copy of Misick’s notice. However, apparently realising that “a mind boggling act of carelessness and incomprehensible stupidity” had been committed in relation to the late filing of Misick’s notice, Ewing tried to enlist the support of Supervisor of Elections Dudley Lewis in effectively covering up the omission.

“Please be advised that Ms Amanda Missick’s (PNP Candidate) declaration for qualification as provided for by section 50 (1) of the Constitution stating that she is qualified to be elected to the House of Assembly under Section 46 and that nothing under section 49 (1) disqualifies her, was submitted to the Supervisor of Elections on Nomination Day. This was also confirmed by Mr Lewis as been (sic) received.

“Please disregard any other submission today on this matter. Mr Lewis advised that your office should have received such declaration at 4:30pm today.”

Then, at 11:33 pm on March 4, Ewing apparently had second thoughts about telling the Integrity Commission to disregard all previous submissions and resent Misick’s notice to the Commission.

“Please consider the following attachment as an addendum to all documentation that was received as part of the declaration of Ms Amanda Missick PNP By-election Candidate,” Ewing said in his late night email.

However, all of this activity on the part of Ewing and others on March 4 appears to have been in monumental disregard of the simple fact that the relevant filing deadline was three days earlier on March 1, as repeatedly drawn to their attention by the Integrity Commission.

Now, PNP supporter and acting attorney general Rhondalee Braithwaite-Knowles is apparently trying to come to the rescue of the party by filing legal challenges long out of time to some of the results in the November 9, 2012, general elections, targeting predominantly PDM members of the House of Assembly.

Given that Braithwaite-Knowles had five days in which to file such challenges after nomination day on October 25, 2012, her failure to do so then, but nevertheless attempt to do so four months later, has also been equated to a mind boggling act of carelessness and incomprehensible stupidity.

The process of “investigation” that took place in the Attorney General’s Chambers during the course of the day on Friday of last week could just as well have been completed and challenges filed against the candidates in question between October 25 and 30 last year during the constitutionally mandated time limit for making such challenges.

For more on this story go to:

http://www.tcinewsnow.com/topstory-Premier-ignored-Commission-warnings-over-filings-5777.html

See also related story:

Attorney General’s Chambers under fire

From TCI News Now

The ongoing leakage on Friday of what should have been confidential information from the Attorney General’s Chambers, apparently by those doing the related research, is now the object of much controversy and complaint in the TCI.

In the hours leading up to the release of a media statement by acting attorney general Rhondalee Braithwaite-Knowles at 5:05 pm on Friday, stories were being widely circulated in the TCI that members from both sides of the political aisle were going to lose their seats in the House of Assembly.

These stories took different forms during the day on Friday until the press release confirmed the exact details. In fact, one weblog favouring the Progressive National Party (PNP) reported that the opposition Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) was going to be targeted by the Attorney General’s Chambers.

Braithwaite-Knowles is well known locally as a dedicated PNP supporter and her actions on Friday against predominantly PDM members of the Assembly are likely to fuel this latest controversy, especially as there are persistent reports locally that she had no intention of challenging Amanda Misick until she was effectively forced to do so.

Indeed, some are calling for an investigation into the decisions being made by the Attorney General’s Chambers on the grounds that it is a criminal act to intentionally destabilize a country.

Also called into question is the condition of the current computerized land records, the responsibility for maintaining the accuracy of which has now been taken over by the attorney general’s department.

The accuracy of the records was widely questioned prior to being transferred and it now appears that the attorney general’s department may have also dropped the ball in this respect by failing accurately to record the current status of conditional leases.

For more on this story go to:

http://www.tcinewsnow.com/topstory-Attorney-General%27s-Chambers-under-fire-5778.html

AND (Dep) AG’s STATEMENT (COMPLETE)

Statement From Rhondalee Braithwaite-Knowles, Acting Attorney General of the Turks and Caicos Islands 08 March 2013  

“Separate and apart from the confidential declaration required to made to the Integrity Commission under the Integrity Commission Ordinance by a person in public life, the Constitution requires a candidate for election, on nomination day to make a declaration that he or she is qualified for election and that no disqualification mentioned in section 49(1) of the Constitution applies to him or her.  In addition, section 49(1)(f) of the Constitution requires such a candidate to notify the Integrity Commission, prior to nomination day, of the existence of any contract between that candidate and the Government.  Failure to so notify the Integrity Commission would result in a candidate being disqualified to stand in an election.

“Following receipt of copies of the section 49(1)(f) Notices and related correspondence supplied to me by the TCI Integrity Commission and having caused background research to be undertaken in the Lands Division of the Chambers, I have come to the conclusion that I should act under section 50(3) of the Constitution, and today a challenge to the veracity of the declaration made by Ms. Amanda Missick, PNP candidate for the upcoming by-election in the Cheshire Hall and Richmond Hill Electoral District on 22 March 2013 has been filed before the Supreme Court.

“On the basis of the background research undertaken I have also come to the conclusion that the election of certain sitting members of the House of Assembly should be challenged under section 53(2) of the Constitution. In that regard, challenges have also been filed today before the Supreme Court challenging the elections of Mr George Lightbourne elected member in the House of Assembly for the Grand Turk North Electoral District; Mr. Edwin Astwood elected member in the House of Assembly for the Grand Turk, South Electoral District; Mr. Derek Taylor member in the House of Assembly for the All Islands Electoral District; Mrs. Josephine Connolly elected member in the House of Assembly for the All Islands Electoral District and Delroy Williams elected member in the House of Assembly for the Wheeland Electoral District.

“The basis of each of these challenges is that when each of the individuals made their section 50(1) Nomination Day declaration to the Supervisor of Elections for the 9th November 2012 General Election and the upcoming 22nd March 2013 by-election, a disqualification mentioned in section 49(1)(f) applied to each them in that each of them has a contract with the Government which, by that date, they had not given notice of to the Integrity Commission, as required by section 49(1)(f) of the Constitution.  The type of contract in each case is a charge to secure the payment to the Crown of a “Belonger Discount” (applicable under the Crown Land Policy) in the event of a sale in prescribed circumstances.

“I have asked the Court to determine whether in each case, the individual is or is not qualified to be an elected member of the House considering the failure to give notice of the respective charges.

“The Constitution provides for a process for challenge in each of these cases in the public interest.  If the Court determines that each member is disqualified then,

a)      In the case of Ms. Missick, she will not be able to stand for election on 22nd March and the sole remaining candidate will be declared elected;

b)      In the case of the members of the House of Assembly, their seats will be vacated and a by-election will have to be called.  A decision on their disqualification would not prevent them from standing in a subsequent by-election called as a result.

ENDS.

Rhondalee Knowles

Deputy Attorney General

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