Censure Motion Against Speaker Defeated 17-15

July 18, 2015

The Censure Motion against Speaker of the House Randy Horton was defeated in the House of Assembly by a vote of 17-15, with the debate involving discussions of an alleged $45,000 bribe and the codename “Master Chef” MPs said was contained in the MacLean affidavit.

Speaker Ejects Opposition MP In March 2015

The Opposition’s Censure Motion followed Speaker Horton’s decision on March 13 to eject PLP MP David Burt from the House for trying to make multiple Points of Order over an amendment being taken straight to a vote without debate.

The Speaker subsequently said, “Upon reflection, and with the benefit of hindsight, I now accept that I should not have allowed the amended motion to be brought to a vote at such an early stage.”

7 minute excerpt of part of the exchange on March 13:

Opposition Brings Motion Against Speaker In March 2015

In March 2015, Shadow Attorney-General Michael Scott gave notice of the Motion seeking to censure the Speaker for his “misconduct of suppressing debate” and the “misuse and abuse of his authority as Speaker.”

The Motion said:

  • Bringing the democracy of these Islands of Bermuda and its Parliament into disrepute, by his misconduct of suppressing debate in the House of Assembly, on an amendment to an Opposition motion, of public importance, and in breach of basic tenets of parliamentary procedure;
  • Bringing Parliament into disrepute, by his misconduct of refusing to both acknowledge and take a point of Order and refusing to allow and hear a point of Privilege by the Member for Pembroke West Central, who rose on a point of Privilege, in breach of the Standing Orders of the House, numbers 11 (3) (a) and 13 (1) as read with 21 (1) (i);
  • Bringing the Parliament into disrepute, by the misuse and abuse of his authority as Speaker, by ejecting the member for Pembroke West Central immediately after the Member rose on a point of Privilege without any lawful or justifiable grounds to eject the Member;
  • Displaying a woeful ignorance and lack of understanding of Standing Orders of the House of Assembly and basic Parliamentary procedure thereby bringing the Parliament into disrepute;

After the Motion was laid in March, Opposition Leader Marc Bean said, “We have seen a pattern of decision making and governorship by the Speaker and this House over two and a quarter years, and I think any casual observer can recognize what is at play.

“I was seeking under a matter of privilege to reveal to everyone, everyone that is online, that is outside Bermuda and that is inside Bermuda why this behaviour is manifesting itself from the Speaker of the House.”

Motion Delayed

The Motion has been delayed a number of times prior to last night’s debate.

Steven DeCosta &  Michael MacLean’s Names Comes Up In Debate

The name Steven DeCosta — a private business colleague of Minister Craig Cannonier — was repeatedly mentioned during the debate by Opposition MPs.

Mr DeCosta’s name first came to public attention as the 4th person on the JetGate flight, with it later revealed he was one of two signatories on the bank account that Nathan Landow and his associates wired $350,000 to.

Michael MacLean’s name also came up. The developer is involved in two legal matters; he launched legal action over losing the waterfront lease and is also the defendant in a lawsuit for non-payment of an $18 loan for the Par-La-Ville development.

Mr MacLean is seeking millions in damages over the waterfront lease, and he filed an affidavit in support of his legal action, with the affidavit containing various allegations.

Debate On Motion Takes Place

“We can’t have the Speaker of the House suppressing debate,” said Michael Scott [PLP] to start off the debate. “It breaches our Standing Orders, it sets a bad precedent.”

Attorney-General Trevor Moniz [OBA] said that in his view sometimes the Speaker is softer on the Opposition MPs, and called the matter a “storm in a teacup.”

“The reason the Speaker’s position is untenable is because of this JetGate money that came into possession…” said Zane DeSilva [PLP], who was then interrupted by an OBA MP on a Point of Order.

Mr DeSilva said that “as soon as you mention” Michael MacLean and Steven DeCosta they get “ruffled.”

“The reason we are here tonight is you have this $45,000 payment that was made,” said Mr DeSilva, who was interrupted again.

Cole Simons [OBA] then spoke. He said maybe the Speaker is too lenient, and asked “are we as Parliamentarians prepared to raise the standard of debate.”

“We do not have confidence in the Speaker,” said Lovitta Foggo [PLP], while Walton Brown [PLP] laid out a number of concerns, and also mentioned the Speaker going to meet with the Governor.

Minister Dr Grant Gibbons [OBA] said he does not think the Motion is a “good use of the House’s time”, and said the House “has dropped to a new low.”

Noting he has been in the House of Assembly some 22 years, Dr Gibbons said the behaviour has been “in many respects, extremely disrespectful, particularly towards the Speaker.”

“If the Speaker is guilty if anything, it’s extraordinary patience,” added Dr Gibbons, “In terms of allowing some of the behaviour, certainly that we have seen from the Opposition side go on as long as it has.”

“I have to say, that having experienced both Ernest DeCouto as Speaker, and Stanley Lowe as Speaker, they certainly would not have had the patience that the current Speaker has exhibited towards some of the activities that we have seen, particularly in the last few months.”

“This is not a Motion I can support,” said Dr Gibbons, adding that he would be “distinctly and clearly voting against” it.

Jamahl Simmons [PLP] said the Standing Orders of the House have been violated, saying “the Speaker has admitted it, the Speaker has apologized for it.”

“That is not in dispute. What is in dispute, is whether this lack of understanding of the rules is a question of competence or something else.”

Mr Simmons referenced the ‘Master Chef’, was interrupted by the Deputy Speaker who said they need to stick to the Motion, with Mr Simmons then mentioning “$45,000 worth of reasons.”

“He is making salacious allegations,” interrupted Attorney-General Trevor Moniz [OBA], adding that it has “nothing to do with the Motion and if he feels there is some substance to it, let him put a Motion on the table as required by the rules.”

“Why is the OBA so protective of the Speaker?” asked Mr Simmons.

Minister Shawn Crockwell [OBA] said he has been stopped from making a Point of Order and what ”happened on March 13th was not unique” as there are times when the Speaker says enough is enough.

Noting that the Speaker is from the Opposition’s side and citing a PLP MP who said “he [the Speaker] offends PLP members,” Minister Crockwell said, “that, to me, is the crux is what is going on.”

“The underlying cause of this, is that he became the Speaker and that affected the numerical dynamics in the House, and the Opposition has been upset by that since that day.”

“We have heard numerous allegations made, very salacious allegations and very serious allegations,” said Minister Crockwell. “But if these allegations have any substance, why in the world haven’t they been to the proper authorities and the proper process..”

The Minister was interrupted by Opposition Leader Marc Bean [PLP] who made a Point of Clarification, asking how does the Minister “presume those actions have not occurred. What makes him think we have not done that already. The question is, why hasn’t there been any action on it.”

“All I know is with the plethora of serious allegations that have been made over the years,” continued Minister Crockwell. “None have been substantiated. None.”

“We are here because the rules have been violated,” said Derrick Burgess [PLP]. “When you don’t understand the rules, and you violate the rules, you will get what we are getting tonight.”

“The rules are quite clear. When a person makes a Point of Order they must be heard,” added Mr Burgess. “We know the Speaker controls the House, but he must give respect to everybody.”

David Burt [PLP] — the MP who the Speaker ejected which resulted in this Motion — citing the Standing Orders and rules of the House, saying, “I take my job seriously. And in taking my job seriously, I take care to read our rules.”

“The Speaker should know the rules,” said Mr Burt. “We cannot have effective democracy if the Speaker does not understand the rules.”

Opposition Leader Marc Bean [PLP] mentioned Michael MacLean and Steven DeCosta, said he saw emails, and also referenced the “Master Chef” code name.

He said his issue with with the Speaker wasn’t just as he asked for Mr Burt to be ejected, but as he was “compromised.”

“Mr Speaker, your position has become untenable,” said Mr Bean. “You have brought the House into disrepute because you compromised your integrity and you accepted a bribe from Nathan Landow. It’s time to resign.”

At one point while Mr Bean was speaking, Dr Gibbons interrupted saying, “He is trying to weave this web of conspiracy. It’s absolutely ridiculous.”

Motion Defeated

The Motion was voted on at around 1.00am, and was defeated by a margin of 17 – 15.

The Speaker did not participate in the debate, with Deputy Speaker Suzann Roberts Holshouser in the Chair.

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Comments (48)

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  1. Truth is killin' me... says:

    Jokers are in the deck. Who has benny?

    • Vote for Me says:

      Beyond all the ‘political inferences’ of the Censure Motion, the real question that must be seriously addressed is whether there is any truth to the allegation that the Speaker received the alleged $45,000.

      Whilst I accept that all comments were made under the cover of Parliamentary privilege, the allegation is so damning that there must be an urgent investigation into the truth (or lack thereof) of the allegations.

      Bermuda’s reputation deserves more!

  2. Triangle Drifter says:

    Nothing surprising here. A complete waste of taxpayer time & most likely tens of thousands needlessly spent on a very predictable outcome.

    Horton may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer for the Speaker position but he is the best available & he is doing better than most probably expected.

    • Build a Better Bermuda says:

      What I found funniest was Mr. brown’s complaints about the Speaker being too favourable to the government and watering down or dismissing opposition motions… that pretty much describes every speaker during the PLP’s government. Why didn’t they object to the favouritism then?

      It comes down to the fact that in the PLP’s eyes, Mr. Horton crossed a line when he accepted being the speaker, and even further, they think voters crossed a line when they voted them out 2 1/2 years ago. Evidence to the later is shown in that they think they should still be setting policy, with Mr. Bean even go so far as to call the OBA government the opposition. He corrected himself before he finish his Freudian slip, but it is there.

    • MAKE MY DAY says:

      ****BINGO****…. Especially for an Ex PLP guy from Somerset!! I remember when he played football for the old *West End Rovers* and was the head man at Warwick Sec!! As a Somerset man… I can go back 50+ yrs bye!!! Ha, ha!!!

    • MAKE MY DAY says:

      Drifter is on the case too bye!!!

  3. Ringmaster says:

    This reads like a school of piranha turning on one of its own. What a waste of time and energy. What is clear is a continued misuse and abuse of Parliamentary privilege. If these accusations laid out by the PLP against an elected PLP MP are real then be men and repeat them in public.
    The House is for The Peoples’ business, and Bermuda needs serious attention, not to be turned into a tots playground. If anyone has turned the House into disrepute it is not the Speaker.

  4. Alvin Williams says:

    History will be the finale judge as far as the speaker is concern and the same goes for this OBA government; the First to be elected on a wave of misinformation; smears against their political opponents and the telling of the big lie; the first to have a premier force out of office under a cloud of alleged corruption and the first political party to be drum out of office after only being the government for one term-’AMEN TO THAT’.

    • Not So Safe says:

      Hmm two things here they didn’t have to promise us another public holiday to get voted in and they didn’t have to deceive us about four people that ARE STILL taking precedence over Bermudians !

    • Ringmaster says:

      The comments you make apply equally to the PLP and elections.
      I think you are forgetting the Election where Jennifer Smith (PLP) was successful only to be stabbed in the back the next day.
      At least Craig Cannonier did the right thing and resigned when these allegations, nothing proven, were made. Unlike Ewart Brown who carried on under similar circumstances of alleged corruption. I’d rather someone takes the high ground than stays with the low.

      • @ Ringmaster: Oooooh, how soon some choose to forget…Sad yes, but true :-(

      • Tired of the OBA says:

        Nothing proven yea OK so why did Mr. Thad Hollis the OBA chairman resign after he investigated Jet Craigy?….. People don’t forget!!!!!!!

        • Ed says:

          Cos thing would be so much better under PLP. Hahahahahahaha

        • MAKE MY DAY says:

          **HISTORY** will be YOUR judge too A Williams!!

    • The Truth and Nothing but the Truth says:

      Alvin, you just described your own, so thank you!

    • MAKE MY DAY says:

      **HISTORY** will be YOUR judge too A Williams!!

  5. Rockfish#2 says:

    Having listened to the entire debate via radio, it is abundantly clear that the primary reason behind the motion of censure was to punish the speaker for accepting the position, and by extension leaving the PLP with one less vote.

  6. bermy bud says:

    Once the plp vote bean out politics in this country will take a u turn.

    • Toodle-oo says:

      *Once the plp vote bean out politics in this country will take a u turn.*

      Yeah , right ! Unless you mean take a turn for the worse hang on to that dream .

  7. frank says:

    speaker is a judas and should do the right thing and step down

    • MAKE MY DAY says:

      Horton got smart…For once!! Ho LOVED that white “speakers Wig”..Ha, ha!!

  8. Accurate says:

    It would seem that everything touched by the rotund “Midas of fecal matter’ ends up needing to be flushed. The fact that anyone could have been influenced by this blowhard mental midget tells me all I need to know about our chances of rescuing the desperate situation we are in.

  9. Rhonda says:

    Should we settled for not the sharpest, for political expediency . What does that say about the decision makings of the Oba,

    • Unbelievable says:

      You don’t know what you are talking about.

  10. Rhonnie aka BlueFamiliar says:

    If they’d stuck with the simple facts they might have had a chance of getting the motion taken seriously, but by going off into other unrelated things, it looks as if they were just using the motion as another platform to forward this conspiracy theory of theirs.

    We don’t care about unsubstantiated theory, we care about the facts, if you have them, show them. If you don’t, stick to the business at hand.

    Oh, and this is Bermuda, we use nicknames, a lot. Calling them a code name sounds a little silly. We are not spies.

  11. Turning the page now. Where is the $18 million? Also, is there “positive evidence”(and not just lip-service)e.g. video/s surrounding the Par-la-ville car park / hotel fiasco?
    Muds always been thicker than water and certain individuals love slinging mud!

  12. swing voter says:

    so we’ve heard accusations within the safety of parliamentary privilege that the speaker has been ‘compromised’…. SMDH and LOL

  13. Really Really BETTTY says:

    The debate in the house signals that the integrity of the Government and the Speaker could be questionable at best. Some strong allegations were raised that do leave some huge questions in terms of our government.

    To ensure that we the people have a Government that is Transparent and honest further examination of these allegations must be carried out or the trust of this government will further erode. The Speaker position opens up to lots of questions as well. It will be very difficult for folks to respect him on the same level as in the past. The fading trust in the government will further decline due to the continued situations of mistrust which continues to pop up.

    • Ringmaster says:

      The PLP turns on its own! Just like a paying mantis. The Motion did not bring up allegations against the OBA, just within the PLP. Try and stay current.

      • Really really Bettty says:

        No Ringmaster it looks more like the Speaker has turned on people that voted him in to serve in their interest. Furthermore if I read correctly the allegations are linked to WaterFrontgate which does involved the government. So it is you who needs to stay current . re-read

        I hope this entire MESS will be examined carefully.

        • Ringmaster says:

          You clearly hate Bermuda. Prime waterfront property in the City is owned by Bermudians. Are you are referring to the transfer of prime property, based on an notice most were supposed to have not seen, for 262 years to an unknown developer with ties to the PLP? Stay tuned to the court case. Allegations may turn out to be just that. I heard from a friend, who heard from someone who told someone else. It sounds like that based on what Marc Bean has said.

  14. Lois Frederick says:

    The whole thing was flawed. The motion was written in a way that the plp limited their own Motion to what was written. It was also flawed by the fact that the Motion had not been printed exactly as the original, missing some punctuation that made a slight difference to the interpretation of the wording. With the Motion having been tabled months ago it would have been the responsibility of the plp to check and have the wording reprinted. It was only at the near end of the 5 hour debate that that point was discovered. However, it was mildly amusing to constantly hear the Deputy Speaker tell the Opposition to stick the Motion and stop drifting here, there and everywhere. Zane was naturally the most bullheaded, with fake apologies at every missteps. The question would be, why if they had all this stuff they wanted to talk about, didn’t they word the Motion accordingly? The Premier had the final word and blamed much of the Opposition Leader’s behaviour on too much of that tea, which was countered by accusations involving Parkside! Both comments being retracted. A bizarre end to a farcical evening.

  15. Marge says:

    I was shocked at the debate to censure MR Horton, in my opinion he should never have been given the job .. Susanne does a far better job than Randy….. she would be a fantastic speaker of the house…

    • Facts over Political hats!! says:

      Your correct Horton should have never been selected. But this was a political strategy played by the OBA.

    • @ Marge: Yeah, sure you’re right. It would also be one less vote for the One Bermuda Alliance Government…

  16. Coffee says:

    The OBA will be responsible for Randy Horton collecting a full pension from the HOA on top of what he already receives from the government coffers . A total waste of taxpayers money . No value for money there .

    • Lois Frederick says:

      I can think of others less worthy.

    • Zevon says:

      How is the OBA responsible? He is a PLP MP. He was a PLP Minister.

      Reminds me of when you lot blame the drafting mistakes made in PLP laws on the ‘lack of effective opposition’. Never willing to take responsibility for anything.

      • Unbelievable says:

        This is 100% true: the PLP never taking responsibility for anything.

    • Vote for Me says:

      @ Coffee
      The impact of the Speaker’s role on MP Horton’s final penaison if often mentioned.

      The reality is that Horton being Speaker for his last 5 years as opposed to being an MP only is very minor, based on how parliamentary pensions are calculated.

      • Coffee says:

        @VFM , even on extra penny is a penny to much ! @ the others .

    • Triangle Drifter says:

      Plenty of that goes on. Retire from a very senior position in the Civil Service, collect generous pension, become an MP, sit for a term or two, collect a pension from that.

      Then there is the Premier who hung around long enough to qualify for a Premiers pension along with an MPs pension after losing the seat.

      No Coffee, don’t suppose you remember any of the that juggling around at taxpayer expense.

  17. navin johnson says:

    My God if all of these people truly cared about Bermuda we would not even need a speaker of the house …..childish,boring and a complete waste of time and money on trivial and petty issues while Bermuda is suffering…..get on with it…

  18. The Truth and Nothing but the Truth says:

    I wonder where Randy Horton was when the country went 2 billion in debt?

    • Build a Better Bermuda says:

      He was another cog, but at the time he was the PLP’s cog

  19. Truth about Randy says:

    Randy Horton is an individual who cares about no one but himself. It is such a shame that he holds any position in Bermuda let along Bermuda politics. Politicians answer to the PEOPLE and as long as people keep allowing them to do whatever they feel with no regard these freak shows will continue. STAND UP BERMUDA!