PLP Chairman Anthony Santucci today challenged the OBA for what he said was a lack of transparency in not publishing a declaration of its candidates’ interests in government contracts as required by law, while the OBA said they were not surprised the PLP were “desperate to cast the OBA in the worst possible light before polling day.”
Mr. Santucci said: “We are gravely concerned that the OBA has not acted as the law requires and published its members’interests in a local newspaper.
“They have spoken often about transparency and openness yet have failed to show this in a fundamental requirement before the election. More importantly, any candidate who has not declared an interest in any government contract is automatically disqualified as a candidate.”
The PLP chairman went on to point out that the PLP ran its ad declaring its members’ interests on December 5, and has done so in previous elections. He said in 2007, the UBP declared interests for 16 of their candidates, many of whom are still candidates for the OBA.
Mr Santucci said the PLP is “aware of at least one OBA candidate who, under this term of the Bermuda Constitution, should now be disqualified as a candidate.”
The PLP chairman said that in 2007 Bob Richards [then a UBP candidate] declared his interest in Government contracts. Mr Santucci said: ”In his 2007 declaration, Mr. Richards noted that he was, ‘Director and Qualified Shareholder of BITS Ltd.’
“Mr. Richards is still listed as President and is a shareholder of Bermuda Information Technology Services Limited in his Declaration of Interest that can be found online at parliament.bm.
“Based on this evidence it is puzzling that Mr. Richards and the OBA feel that this information should not be published as the law of Bermuda requires, especially given that we understand that this company still has contracts with the Bermuda Government.
“In that same UBP declaration in 2007, Mr. Jeff Sousa declared his interest as ‘President and Qualifying shareholder in Sousa’s Landscape Management Company Limited’. We also understand that Mr. Sousa’s company still has a contract with the Government of Bermuda.”
Mr. Santucci added: “Has something changed since 2007 and if not, what does Mr. Richards, Mr. Sousa and the OBA have to hide? The constitution of Bermuda is clear on the legal obligations for transparency of Parliamentary candidates…”
“We call on the OBA to come out of the shadows and stop hiding,” said Mr Santucci. “Tell the people of Bermuda when Mr. Richards’ interest in the multi-million dollar government contract ended. Bermudians have a right to know.”
OBA Chairman said Thad Hollis replied, saying: “We’re not surprised that Mr. Santucci and the PLP are desperate to cast the One Bermuda Alliance in the worst possible light before polling day, in this instance over whether candidates declared interests in Government contracts as required by law.
“Under the Legislature (Qualification and Disqualification) Act, One Bermuda Alliance candidates have confirmed to the Party that they have no interests to declare.
“More specifically, in light of continuing attacks by Mr. Santucci and his colleagues, Mr. E.T. (Bob) Richards has taken advice from senior legal counsel and his opinion is that Mr. Richards is clearly not disqualified and that the Parliamentary Registrar has no authority to declare him or any other candidate disqualified. Candidate Mr. Jeff Sousa has also taken legal advice and he has confirmed he has no interest to declare.
“The continuing PLP campaign of distortion, lies and spin is a desperate attempt to distract voters from the real issues facing Bermuda. It is telling these attacks came the same day that Anchor Investment Management’s Bermuda Economic Update warned of a potential Bermuda “debt crisis”.
“The One Bermuda Alliance will not be sidetracked from our mission to build a Bermuda based on social and economic equity for all, leaving no one behind, with good-paying jobs, safe neighbourhoods, great schools and making Bermuda affordable,” Mr Hollis concluded.