Cronyism and Conflicts of Interest Part II
In a recent statement, the AG of the Bahamas has attempted to dismiss and downplay concerns raised regarding what can only be described as an obvious conflict of interest. Rather than exonerate her though, the AG’S statement further worsens the conflict. In it she reveals that her husband Maxwell Gibson is in fact the owner of the lease property. While her refusal to acknowledge her lapse in judgment on this issue is disappointing, Mrs. Maynard Gibson is only partially at fault for the current media spectacle.
FULL BLAME for this latest affront to our country’s Parliamentary system of governance should be laid at the feet of PM Perry Christie. For what seems like the umpteenth time, Mr. Christie seems to have checked out. His failure to effectively manage the actions of those in his cabinet is indicative of a wider failure to effectively govern altogether. His inaction in the matter involving the AG is also a serious ethical indictment on the PM whose moral compass is clearly pointing in the wrong direction.
By the AG’s own admission ahead of being chosen as the government’s lead negotiator, she made the PM aware of the business interests of her husband and daughters in Bahamar. That declaration to the PM indicates that the AG was on some level AWARE of the public perception her appointment to that role could create. As a tenured attorney she therefore took the steps which were necessary to ensure that such a conflict could be addressed. One can only question why the PM saw nothing wrong with the AG’s continued involvement. As Prime Minister, would he have felt the same if his own children were so intimately tied to the development? Having been presented with that knowledge, it was then up to the Prime Minister as the country’s CEO, to make the necessary decision to remove her or make an alternative choice for lead negotiator. Sadly it appears that after 40 years in public life Mr. Christie has chosen to abandon his once highly touted code of ethics developing in its place an inclination toward moral deficiency.
This is not the first time the PM has failed to display ethical fortitude. Just a few months ago, in the face of what could have been perceived as a conflict of interest and a dereliction of his duties, Jr. Minister of Legal Affairs Damien Gomez officially tendered his resignation to the PM after scores of files on his former clients went missing from the AG’s office. His resignation however, was not accepted by the PM.
The Democratic National Alliance calls on the PM to break his silence on this very troubling matter. He can no longer attempt to dissociate himself from this matter and MUST, in the interest of the greater good, not only REMOVE the AG from this conflict of interest but must also publicly explain why he thought it appropriate for the government’s lead negotiator to have familial ties to the project. The Prime Minister must also state publicly and definitively if any other of his cabinet ministers have similar ties to the development.
For far too long Bahamians have watched as those in public office have made their fortunes by exploiting such relationships to the detriment of the wider public. PM Perry Christie has a unique opportunity to right decades of wrong by addressing this situation. We implore him to take it.