Following the OBA Jetgate bread crumbs
Following the OBA Jetgate bread crumbs
As he walked through the trees, he left a trail of crumbs behind him to mark the way.
— Hansel and Gretel fairy tales
Despite political differences, I have come to respect and somewhat admire OBA chairman Thad Hollis.
And his JetGate report took my respect for him up a notch.
It is not so much what he put in the report that raises questions but what he left out that is most telling.
Let’s look at the bread crumbs he tossed our way:
1. “The scope of this investigation has been limited … Per an Executive Resolution; it does not pursue the actions of Cabinet Ministers as these fall under the responsibility of the Premier and the Ministerial Code.”
Translation: The OBA Executive, which according to the OBA constitution includes the Leader and Deputy Leader, prevented reporting on any findings that included MPs or Senators.
2. “I have attempted to remain unmoved in spite of pressure to conclude and release some findings as final .”
Translation: Mr Hollis was under pressure to whitewash this report.
3. “The account [Bermuda Political Action Club] was opened with two signatories; Mr. Steven DeCosta and Derrick Green. When the signatories were attempting to open the account, the Bank of N.T. Butterfield sought confirmation from the Party regarding the opening of the account. Mr Michael Fahy, the then OBA Campaign Chairman, was telephoned and confirmed the account.”
4. “This account was not authorised by the established protocols of the OBA.”
5. “The Party Executive did not know of the existence of the account or the donation until eighteen months later.”
6. “This grassroots campaign did coordinate with the Campaign Chairman, Mr. Fahy”
This all suggests — though perhaps we’ll never know for sure — that Senator and campaign chairman Michael Fahy:
n Did not share knowledge of the account to the OBA Executive Committee;
n Did not adhere to OBA’s constitutional rules on transparency and campaign financing;
7. “There were withdrawals made from the account in large denominations… large withdrawals that were reportedly made to pay the grassroots campaign workers. Tertiary accounts are beyond the purview of this investigation and personal accounts are not available to this form of inquiry.”
Further questions: Why was there a need to make withdrawals in large amounts? Does Mr Hollis’s reference to private accounts imply that funds were transferred into personal accounts but he was unable to follow that trail?
8. “Mr Derrick Green introduced Mr Landow and Mr Craig Cannonier in the fall of 2012.”
Conflicts: Derrick Green, college friend of MP Shawn Crockwell and paid campaign consultant to the OBA, denied this following the release of this report. Mr Green insists that he was never questioned by Mr Hollis, and also states that he and Mr Cannonier were introduced for the first time to Mr Landow by his business associate Gerry Evans in the summer of 2012.
9. “There is evidence that persons connected to the One Bermuda Alliance, did have a commercial relationship with Mr Landow, post the 2012 General Election.”
Proof: OBA officials were still involved in business with Mr Landow after the $350,000 was used to fund the OBA’s campaign.
10. “I discovered in the course of this investigation other matters of equal concern. However, I have been instructed by Resolution to stay within the original statement of 14th May, 2014.”
Smoking Gun: This is perhaps the biggest clue that Mr Hollis has provided. While the investigation revealed additional concerns, it appears he was ordered by OBA Executive Resolution not to make these public.
This report creates more questions than answers:
1. Which OBA official was under the Ministerial Code of Conduct prior to December 18?
2. Where did the OBA think all of this funding was coming from?
3. Should the Internal Revenue Service become involved?
4. Why didn’t local banks report these large cash withdrawals?
5. Besides the Leader, the Deputy Leader and the Chairperson, who else was on the Campaign Committee?
6. As a member of the Campaign Committee, how much did the then-Senator Toni Daniels know?
7. It is clear from this report that both Senator Fahy and Mr Green were key players so why is Mr Green insisting that neither he nor Senator Fahy were ever interviewed by Mr Hollis?
8. As the then-Deputy Leader of the OBA, MP Michael Dunkley was a member of both the Executive Committee and the Campaign Committee as mandated by the OBA Constitution. What did he know?
9. Mr Hollis reportedly stated that he had not yet shared the findings of his report with Premier Dunkley — why not?
10. And why, now that MP Dunkley is Premier, did he not grant Mr Hollis further scope for this investigation?
Premier Dunkley: “If I can do anything by my leadership it will be to be straightforward … be open and transparent with Bermuda. It’s easy to field the very easy questions but those difficult questions; I will ask my colleagues to step forward to give those answers.”
— May 20th, 2014
Clearly, a few folks are trying to hide the bread crumbs. Book’ em Danno !
Christopher Famous won the Bermudian Magazine’s Best Columnist Award for 2012. He may be contacted at [email protected]
• JetGate: 'Here's how the $350k was spent'
• JetGate: ‘Wouldn’t do it again’
• JetGate: Hollis offers to resign — is another OBA man set to fall on his sword?
• Police probe JetGate scandal
• JetGate: ‘I did it because I believe in Craig’
• JetGate: DeCosta reflects on fallout
• JetGate: Landow responds to OBA probe
• JetGate: Campaign finance reform is needed