Appearing in an interview yesterday [Aug 28] on the Sherri Simmons radio show on Magic 102.7, Andre Curtis talked about a wide variety of issues including his recent incarceration, politics, crime, religion, and the Faith Based tourism plan.
He said he is 75% sure he may run for public office, he knew the Uighurs were coming before they arrived, the Faith Based tourism plan was a good thing, an angel appeared to him when he was in prison, the prison should be privatized, we should look at other avenues for dealing with the gang problem, and that he is not the person he has been made out to be.
In December 2010 Mr Curtis was sentenced to 15 months in jail after admitting to operating Harvest Investment Holdings Ltd. without a licence. In a subsequent trial in 2011 he was found not guilty of charges he stole more than $130,000 in Government funds earmarked for the Faith Based Tourism initiative.
He began the interview with Mrs Simmons by apologizing to his family and friends for any pain the situation may have caused them. He then addressed the allegations against him in the Faith Based Tourism matter, and pointed out the the jury found him not guilty.
Explaining about his actual conviction, Mr Curtis said that he was incarcerated for one year for doing a money transaction that didn’t have the required licence from the BMA, and he wasn’t aware he did not have the licence. “It was unfortunate, but I took the hit and went on,” said Mr Curtis.
He said for the first year of the Faith Based programme he did not get paid, and he put his “all into it.” He said the idea behind it was to bring Christians to the island, and it was a long term plan. He also stated he felt the programme was underfunded, with $200,000 for the first year insufficient to help 52 churches.
Mrs Simmons questioned him about some specifics of the case, and he said a lot of things did not come out in the media and that the jury got everything, not a part story.
Mr Curtis said it was only the second year he got any money from Government. He said he had a staff of four and that from January to April he financed everything himself.
Mr Curtis said: “The media only picked on what’s wrong with it, not what’s right. It was a good thing. Churches were blessed, and people were blessed. People were starting to come to the island…”
“But the media just wants to attack, and these bloggers…that’s like a Satans hell hole, that’s what it is. Where people can just go and talk about people, and blog about people and don’t even know who they are.”
Speaking about when he first entered prison he said: “In the van to Westgate I asked God why did you do that, why. I did everything you asked me to do. Like I put on the National Stadium event which saw 7,000 Christians come together to worship in one place, the largest ever in Bermuda.
“Like I was doing things for God, and God was silent. I got up there, I got into the room and an angel appeared and said to me ‘you forgive everybody that you think put you up here, because I did.’ And it disappeared. So I forgave everybody that I thought put me there,” said Mr Curtis.
In describing the conditions in prison, Mr Curtis said while he was incarcerated a “big ugly guy” was bothering him, however a gang member interceded. He said the gang leader took the guy in his room and pointed to him [Mr Curtis] and said: “This guy’s important to me, don’t touch him.” He also said that drugs and alcohol are easily accessible in prison.
Mr Curtis said he met the gang leaders, and feels he “can bring the shootings to zero.” He said he asked the gangs to stop shooting for two months, and the gangs “got on the phone and called their people and it was no shootings. Not one person got shot within that period, and before that it was a killing a month.”
He also said he thinks the prison should be independently owned, and not run by Government. “From being there, and understanding the system, I don’t think we need to be paying $85,000 a year,” Mr Curtis said.
Mr Curtis also claimed he knew the Uighurs were coming to Bermuda before they arrived. When asked a question by a caller about previous statements elsewhere that only then Premier Dr Ewart Brown and then National Security Minister Lt. Col. David Burch were aware prior, he did not expand.
He said: “Understand this Bermuda, the leader of the free world – never mind it’s Barack Obama, never mind he is black, never mind these things — he is the leader of the free world. That move right there helped Bermuda…..helped Bermuda stay in business in the world.”
Saying he cannot go “into detail about it,” he asked people to think about “what the U.S. Government is doing now to certain countries.”
He also claimed he was there when Dr Brown spoke to President Barack Obama via telephone three times, and also spoke about his general relationship with the former Premier saying he advised him on various things and worked very closely with him.
When asked if he was Dr Brown’s “right hand man” he said yes, and that the former Premier “always called me to discuss things.” He was asked by a couple of callers what qualified him to advise the Government as he was not elected, and he said “I don’t know, I guess because I was a good listener…”
Saying that he has been asked by several people to run for public office, Mr Curtis said is “seriously considering it.” Mrs Simmons asked him how sure is he that he may run for public office — 50%, 100% etc — and he said he is 75% sure he will.
Mrs Simmons asked him what party he would run for, and he did not actually state a party but said he does not think either party is doing the best for the country. When asked if he thought his conviction would impact his ability to attract votes, he said that is up to the voter.
He went on to tell the radio listeners that he thinks that Premier Paula Cox is doing a “great job” and “is doing what she does best.” Mr Curtis also pointed out he also likes some people in the OBA: “I like Mark Pettingill, I allowed him to represent me. He is a guy that is for the country.”
Mr Curtis also said he is working on initiatives to help people, including employment and education initiatives, as he offers a unique perspective as he has talked to those at both the “bottom” and the “top.” He said he thinks he can “link the two.”
He said the UBP, PLP, and OBA all think we need to “lock up everybody that is involved with gangs,” but he thinks we should look at other avenues such as sending them to England to be educated.
He said he does not believe we need gambling in Bermuda due to both his Christian beliefs and he “stigma” that goes with it. “People come here for peace,” he said.
Talking about the public perception of him, Mr Curtis said: “So they form an opinion about you, and they don’t even know who you are. And they form an opinion about the crap that has been written and the bloggers have said. And it’s wrong, it’s a place where the devil hangs out in these situations.
“I am not a perfect guy, I have had my share of mistakes, but you have had yours, and they have had theirs. People try and play like they are all innocent and stuff like that,” said Mr Curtis.
When Mrs Simmons asked him if he feels that people are angry he was not convicted for the Faith Based tourism issue, he said yes and that the Bible says you will always have enemies with you.
On the issue of sexual orientation Mr Curtis mentioned his work to oppose the Rosie O’Donnell cruise a few years ago saying: “I don’t have anything against a gay person, that’s what you want to take, take it.
“But to come here in gangs of people and say we are gay and are going parade up and down Front Street – no I am not going to have that. Well not on my watch anyway.”
When Mrs Simmons asked why he decided to speak out now, Mr Curtis said he will have to think on that, but wanted people to know that “the media has made me out to be what I am not. That’s what I want people to take away.”
When asked by one caller did he learn his lesson, he answered: “Yes, a very hard lesson, yes.”
“I learned a couple of lessons. One is that God is with me no matter where he puts me,” said Mr Curtis. ”God said he will never leave you or forsake you and I truly believe that.”
He received quite a few calls in support, as well as those not in full agreement with his points including one male caller who said his comments saying God speaks directly to him seem “borderline schizophrenic.”
The Sherri Simmons Show airs weekdays between 11am and 3pm on Magic 102.7, and can be found here on Facebook.