FRIDAY, MAY 4: Popular pastor Leroy Bean could be dumped as a PLP candidate in the next General Election, the Bermuda Sun can reveal.
Pastor Bean was adopted as the candidate by the St George’s South branch two years ago — but now the branch fears the party want him to stand down amid controversy surrounding his time as deputy chairman of the Bermuda Land Development Corporation (BLDC).
Pastor Bean is said to have been called to a meeting with party chiefs next week.
It is understood that Pastor Bean has the full backing of the St George’s South branch — which has vowed to fight any moves to interfere as against party rules on selection.
Anthony Richardson — who stood against OBA leader Craig Cannonier in what had been a stronghold for the UBP — has been tipped as a possible replacement.
A party insider said: “There’s no doubt this has to do with the BLDC thing — but the feeling in the east end is that Leroy has done nothing wrong and he should not be penalized this way.
“The branch is arguing that any decision by the party centrally to interfere with an internal branch decision on a candidate is not in accordance with the party’s constitution. In short, they just can’t do it.”
The insider added: “The branch is also angry at suggestions that they will be asked to adopt someone else.
“That would not be the local choice and the party is supposed to be about democracy.”
Pastor Bean did not return calls from the Bermuda Sun yesterday.
The PLP constitution is clear that selection of candidates is reserved to branches — although practice in recent times suggests that candidates are not official until they are formally announced by party HQ.
A spokesman for the PLP said: “The Progressive Labour Party does not comment on the particulars of our candidate selection procedures.
“All of our candidates for the general election will be announced in due course, and at the appropriate time.”
Auditor General Heather Jacobs Matthews accused Mr Bean and former BLDC chairman Edward Saunders of “a fundamental conflict of interest” in a report by into the misuse of public funds earlier this year.
Ms Jacobs Matthews said that $160,000 paid to the two men for preparing a report into the inner workings of the company should not have been sanctioned and was a breach of the Companies Act because the two had failed to declare an interest and that some of the payments, which were made on a rolling basis, had not been properly approved.
Ms Jacobs Matthews’ calls for the consultancy cash to be repaid was backed by Finance Minister Paula Cox and she also called for Mr Saunders and Mr Bean to be removed from the BLDC board.
The cross-party House of Assembly Public Accounts Committee is discussing the report.
Pastor Bean and Mr Saunders have already appeared before MPs.