Report Questions Richards, Sousa’s Eligibility

March 11, 2014

A Parliamentary Select Committee on elections has questioned whether the election of Minister Bob Richards and MP Jeff Sousa are “legally valid”, and recommended that “Parliament act to bring clarity on the eligibility of the Hon members Richards and Sousa to continue to sit in Parliament.”

This Select Committee was established in September 2013 by Parliament with the mandate of examining and reviewing any matter relating to elections and report its findings and recommendations to Parliament

Speaking on Minister Bob Richards and MP Jeff Sousa the report said:

The impetus for the establishment of this Committee stems from the controversy surrounding the candidacy of Mr. Bob Richards and Mr. Jeff Sousa during the 2012 election.

As candidates for the United Bermuda Party in the 2007 General Election both Mr. Richards and Mr. Sousa declared an interest in government contracts in accordance with the Constitution and the Act. Although both men were widely believed to be involved in the same or similar contracts in 2012, neither of them made any declaration in accordance with the Constitution and the Act.

When the issue was publicised before the December 17 2012 election a spokesperson for the One Bermuda Alliance, the party whose banner the two men were running under, declared neither candidate was in breach of the Constitution.

Since both MPs declined repeated invitations to appear before the Committee key facts were not able to be ascertained from them.And a number of questions went unanswered:

1. For the qualifying period did either of them meet the requirement to disclose?
2. What, if any, contracts did companies, where they were either a director, officer or manager and beneficially owned 10% or more o the shares, have with Government?
3. Given that they both disclosed in 2007 why did they not do so in 2012?
4. Where did the Hon Bob Richards derive the concept of ―insiders‖ vs. ―outsiders‖ from?
5. Did he not declare because he considered himself an ―outsider‖ from Government in late 2012?

These are critically important issues to address to ensure Parliament and the electoral process uphold high standards and act within the Constitution. Voters in the constituencies where the Hon Richards and the Hon Sousa ran successfully have a right to expect and to know whether or not those elections are legally valid.

And likewise, Parliament should want to know whether or not members sitting its august chambers are legitimately entitled to be doing so. The honourable thing to do is for these two members to make full and immediate disclosure of the right to continue to sit in Parliament.

The full Parliamentary Select Committee report follow below [PDF here]

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  1. OBA: PLP Leaders Putting Politics Before Country | | March 12, 2014
  1. watching says:

    I remember this issue coming up around the election. I see no reason why Richards and Sousa would refuse to declare their interests. Seems rather silly to me. But if the law requires it, then they should have.
    It will be very interesting if they are required to step down. That could cause another general election. However I doubt that will happen. The OBA will fight this in court until the next scheduled general election if necessary. This secrecy just shows the lack of transparency of the OBA – who ironically campaigned on the mantra of transparency, accountability, openness.

  2. Dark Side of the Moon says:

    and neither did Zane DeSilva. Why wasn;t his name mentioned by Ms. Wilson and Mr. Brown? So hypocritical.

  3. Starting Point says:

    It would have seemed to make sense for the commission to look back further than one year to see if this had occurred prior, has there been precedent before when a sitting member did not declare and was allowed to remain well past the 7 day reporting requirement? If not it seems a bit of a witch hunt to focus on just two candidates in one year vs. seeing if there is a systemic problem with the process of making these declarations.

    That being said, it seems the invited constitutional expert was correct in that the declarations need to be made, according to the process this should have been highlighted in that initial period after the last election, to take year to do so would raise more flags than anything else, why does it take that long for this current group of OBA and PLP to accomplish a seemingly simple task? We, on both sides of the political divide, deserve better from our members in the house.

    Seems that the recommendations of the report should be followed, although once again (as is standard with the OBA and PLP) the conclusions are incomplete as they give no guidance on what to do about the current two members, do they now submit their interests, are they expelled (doubt that) etc. Why produce a report with some good items such as improving the process but not deal with the actual reason the committee was formed….? Government at its best (which usually defaults to the worst).

    • Edmund Spenser says:

      The constitutional expert said declarations needed to be made based on the rules in place and listed the circumstances that required those declarations. He never said Richards and Sousa failed to make declarations that should have been made. This is just the conclusion that the PLP PAC was hoping we would reach based on their comments, instead of actually reading the report for ourselves.
      As for the recommendations, section 6, para E is so vague that it would require every taxpayer to declare every government contract because we would have a financial interest in every contract because our taxes we paid would be used to pay for the contract. Completely defeats the purpose of declaring interest in government contracts.

  4. 1minute says:

    Ewart Brown was not “legally valid” at the time he was elected, as he had taken on US Citizenship and denounced being Bermudian

  5. ???????????? says:

    The UBP looked the other way over questions relating to Dr. Brown’s US citizenship (he wasn’t expatriated for a number of years after he was elected as an MP) and the law is quite explicit about citizens of other countries sitting in Parliament.

    So why does the PLP think it’s appropriate to chase after these two individuals but not one of their own?

    • RME says:

      The PLP isn’t chasing after these 2 individuals. It is bi-partisan. If you bothered to look at the cover page, you’d see that 3 of the 5 members of this committee are OBA. Don’t let the facts get in your way.

      • Edmund Spenser says:

        This is not true, the minority report written by the two PLP members is what specifically targets Richards and Sousa. The overall bi-partisan report as submitted does not make the claim that contracts that should have been declared we’re not declared. The bi-partisan report merely reiterates the definition of contracts that should be declared.

        • ???????????? says:

          You beat me to it. Thank you.

        • BETTTY TRUMP says:

          . While candidates with an interest in government contracts running under the Progressive Labour Party Published such interest in accordance with governing legislation, NO such publication was made for any candidate running under the One Bermuda Alliance. This led to allegations that at least two of the OBA candidates were in breach and therefore disqualified as a candidate. On December 16 2012 the OBA issued a statement that the two candidates had taken legal advice and neither was in breach of the governing legislation.

          Please read the report carefully. The PLP did publish their interest, the OBA did not.

          This is a joint committee set up in the HOA.

          • haha says:

            bla bla bla

            zane desilva didn’t declare either cry me a river…stfu

          • Edmund Spenser says:

            Please read the report yourself. No where in the report does it say declarations that should have been made were not made, no where. The PLP published what was required, so did the OBA. The FACT is that no declaration from Richards and Sousa was required. The OBA did not declare an interest in any contracts because they were not required to. That is the simple fact, really.

          • Mike Hind says:

            Well, now we know it’s on the up and up!
            “Bettty” has spoken and “she”‘s never wrong, ever!

            Oh wait.

      • About Face says:

        The other fact that above article omitted didn’t was the fact that Zane Desilva also declined to show up at the Committee’s request.

        • BETTTY TRUMP says:

          He went along and published his interest, NO OBA MP did the follow up steps.

          • Edmund Spenser says:

            There was no follow-up step required from an OBA MP.

      • About Face says:

        Teh composition of the Committee highlights the OBA’s integrity as it is willing to identify any issues with their fellow members.

        The PLP would have simply had the report hidden or had the authors arrested a la Auditor General style.

  6. 32n64w says:

    Why did the Minority Report mention there were four MP’s who refused to appear before the Committee but only identify two of them by name?

  7. Jim Bean says:

    Except the two PLP’ers produced a minority report – which was the sole purpose of Walton Brown striking the committee….so don’t let those facts get in the way

  8. Gotham says:

    Yeah right, and President Obama is not an American, he is a moslem imposter born outside the country…..Who cares, Richards, Sousa, DeSilva, EFB were all elected by their constituencies. If you really want to dig the dirt, Richards’s father former Premier (Government Leader then) Sir. Edward Richards was from Guyana and it was discovered rather late in the day that he was not technically Bermudian (he was already Premier) – there was a very rushed swearing in as a Bermudian up at Government House, all very hush, hush.

  9. Paul says:

    Kim Wilson,we expect more fom you…..

  10. Coffee says:

    Perhaps it was the same civil servant who advised Gordon -Pamplin assuring Richards and Sousa that they have nothing to declare .

    • RedRabbit says:

      No shortage of sinecure beholden Fifth Columns, that’s for sure.