We All Fall Down – Corruption, Conspiracy & Casinos

The last 48hrs has been one of those moments in our political history when so much is condensed in so short of time that it’s quite hard to really comprehend it all.

bribe

And certainly the revelations of today, particularly in the Bermuda Sun, have been nothing short of explosive.

It’s all really quite a lot to take in.

I’ll try and summarise some of the key points about the ‘underground election campaign’:

  • The OBA hired people to post on blogs, on media articles, on Facebook and to call radio talk-shows (and likely LTTEs too), presumably to (a) spread disinformation about the PLP; and (b) big-up the OBA.
  • The OBA exploited unemployed, ex-con, Blacks in order to: (a) see above; (b) provide cheap labour to hand out campaign material and erect OBA signs around the island.
  • The $350k donations wasn’t enough, so the OBA proper, with the OBA receiving invoices.
  • The funds were transferred in large amounts out of the BPAC account to Mr DeCosta’s private business to give him more flexibility in paying himself and his workers.
  • Mr DeCosta made a profit out of this underground election campaign.

Some key quotes from the article:

On blogging:

“But we were in full swing blogging, Facebook, Bernews, the RG and radio talk shows.”

“At this time we probably had six people blogging 24 hours a day.”

“There are pseudonyms when you are in the social media – there was an element of the unknown that was deliberate with that process.”

On selecting his workers…

The ‘stealth team’ were recruited from jobless Bermudians and paid between $20 and $25 per hour, often in cash.

“What I did was I went to people who did not have jobs and I went to the Black community.  I employed them and I paid them by the hour around $25 maybe $20 an hour dropping flyers.”

“Some of them have police records but they are good people.”

On paying himself…

“There were bonuses paid to practically everyone in the whole team [after the OBA won the election] and we deserved it too.”

Asked if he made a profit from the operation Mr DeCosta said “Yes, I did well.”

Some quick points:

  1. It’s not ‘grassroots’ if you pay people to spread disinformation or pretend to be supporters. That’s Astroturfing.
  2. From now on, any pro-OBA commentators anywhere will be regarded with suspicion and considered hired help.
  3. The image of the OBA, and the UBP before it, cynically exploiting Blacks, partly as a way to gain access to Black communities or otherwise manufacture the appearance of Black support, is reinforced.
  4. Rumours which had been going around for some time now about some sort of unholy alliance between the OBA and the Parkside gang will be reinforced (including allegations that the OBA’s opposition to decriminalisation/legalisation of cannabis directly benefits criminal elements in our society…).
  5. The OBA cannot reasonably deny having no knowledge of the BPAC account, it’s funding and purpose, if it was receiving invoices from them and paying them on top of it. “The OBA still paid us more on top of that [the $350k] to do what we were doing.  We were submitting invoices to them as well.”
  6. That Mr DeCosta (and presumably key OBAers and OBA supporters) still see no problem with all of this speaks to their lacking a moral compass and are not fit to govern.

Final Points

In the 2012 Election I was the only candidate to call for campaign finance reform, with my election platform calling for:

“Commission a Green Paper on campaign financing to investigate the pros and cons of placing caps on campaign financing or the abolition of private campaign financing, replacing it with set and equitable public financing for all candidates.”

At the time I was somewhat ridiculed for such a position (I was also ridiculed for pushing for sewage treatment plants before crap-balls began washing up on our beaches…), however I feel somewhat vindicated now.

I’m just sorry that, like my call for sewage treatment, it’s only quite literally when the crap washes up into our faces that finally people begin to adopt these things.

We’ve needed campaign finance laws for decades now, and it’s my hope that from this sorry state of affairs we may actually see a real push for it now.  If we don’t then we’re simply legitimising this, and worse, for the future (and mind you, there’s no reason not to suspect there weren’t other BPACs…).

The Fake Party?

The Fake Party?

 

The OBA is increasingly being seen as a fake party, with fake supporters and fake promises.

And it’s impossible to separate this ongoing Jet Gate scandal from the ditching of the referendum on casino gambling and the RFP for the Club Med site.

The stench is real, and it is growing.

And we’re all collateral damage – we’re all falling down due to the lies and lack of ethics by those involved in the OBA today.

 

Some Questions

  1. Can the OBA survive this?
  2. Is the OBA even a viable party to contest the next election?  Or the election after that even?
  3. If the OBA isn’t a viable party anymore, is the PLP?
  4. If neither are, then what? A new party, or general apathy?
  5. Will this lead to campaign finance reform?
  6. Will Jet Gate claim more scalps?
  7. How damaged is Bermuda by this scandal?
  8. Can anyone trust the OBA on anything anymore?
  9. Can anyone trust any pro-OBAers to be genuine?
  10. Is the OBA now a toxic brand?

See also Beachlime and Bermuda Blue for their initial posts on these matters.

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8 thoughts on “We All Fall Down – Corruption, Conspiracy & Casinos

  1. Lol! It is only you and the PLP/BIU that are blowing this ‘Jet Gate’ thing out of proportion. Did shady stuff happen? Yes. Did heads roll because of it? Yes. Now, how many heads rolled over the PLP’s many scandals over PUBLIC money? None. Case closed. Instead of praising the fact that there is finally some accountability in Bermudian politics you want to keep stoking the fire. The OBA is here to stay mate. You and the PLP can keep harping on about ‘Jet Gate’, boycott parliament and march around town but the OBA isn’t losing their focus on the work that needs to be done to get Bermuda back afloat.

  2. How do I know you aren’t a paid blogger?

    We have yet to have full disclosure about Jet Gate and BPAC. Some heads have rolled, but not enough, and we certainly aren’t seeing the transparency and accountability that was promised.

    I’m personally going to have to review my commenting process from now on. I actively discouraged comments at one time. With the rise of paid bloggers, I may have to end all comments completely, although I’d rather not lose an option for feedback and correction…

  3. The money given was never public money so if you are asking for the OBA to be fully transparent about their party donations then I’d say you should start by looking in the mirror. Can you provide us with a list of your supporters and the donations they have made? Have the PLP provided a list of their donors and what their contributions are? Are the BIU’s financial records up to date? Personally, I think all union members should be very concerned about the viability of the union. Can the union afford to pay workers if they strike illegally? Methinks not and I’m confident that’s why they chose to march on Friday during their lunch hour instead of going on strike.

    For the record I am not a paid blogger.

  4. I don’t have any supporters in a financial sense, and all my campaign materials or other campaign related expenses came out of my personal savings. I also designed all my own materials, although I did get free feedback/constructive criticism throughout the design process. All the research and creation of policies was done by myself, although I also got free feedback/constructive criticism as I developed them (and continue to develop them).

    One person donated photography services (six photos) as they didn’t think my own photos were very good.

    All images used in my materials are sourced from free-stock imagery or are fully referenced/credited.

    All printing costs, etc, were also paid for by myself.

    The largest single expense, to memory, was the security deposit, a pre-requisite to registering as a candidate. I believe that was $250. I kept a whack of my receipts and will have to check.

    I had no software or whatnot for infometric analysis, and usually canvassed solo, but occasionally with friends who volunteered their time.

    My http://www.votestarling.com website was designed by myself, and a minimal cost (it uses the same template as this blog, a template I’m familiar with).

    For the petition campaign, all clip-boards, pens, string for attaching pens to clip-boards, design and printing of the petition sheets came out of my own pocket. One person, who strongly supported the need for a referendum, donated a copy of the parliamentary registrar for verifying the signatures – that has a value of, if I recall correctly, $250.

    There were no other expenses at all, and I’d imagine I spent no more than $500 of my own money for my election expenses, and no more than $150 (probably less than $100 really) on the petition campaign.

    I am disappointed that neither political party has, so far, strongly condemned the tactics involved and the very concept of paid bloggers.

    What I would like to see is a Commission of Inquiry into the 2012 election, specifically the issue of paid bloggers. I think that would be the best model for clearing the air on these issues, and I would make available to such a Commission whatever financial records they might request in order to verify my statements above. As is I guess you’ll just have to take me at my word.

    You may not be a paid blogger, and I give you my word I’m not paid (though it would make my financial life easier, lol!); I have never received funds from any political party, organisation or individual for blogging or related services.

    The problem is that this whole issue erodes trust so much – we just don’t know who might be a paid blogger. I continue to find non-anonymous posters more credible (they are, after all, exposed to the risk of libel/defamation and so need to take greater care with what they say, but even then…

    Not sure what the unions have to do with anything here?

  5. Jonathan, after all that you never provided any names of the individuals who have supported you either via financial support or technical support. Seems like it isn’t that easy after all for even an independent candidate to do it!

    I am bringing the union into this because Chris Furbert has been front and center about the whole Jet Gate scandal. When it comes to finances, him and his union have some skeletons in their closet too.

  6. I would have thought it was clear from my comments that the only individual involved was me, myself, and I.

    I am of the opinion that no matter what I say or disclose it wouldn’t be ‘good enough’ – hence why I put forward an idea of a Commission of some sort that could verify the statements of all candidates and political parties involved in the 2012 election.

    I’m afraid I’m not seeing the how the BIU President has been ‘front and center about the whole Jet Gate scandal’. The central figures involved have all been members of the OBA or closely associated to key OBA persons. I’m sure the unions have their own problems, but Jet Gate sure isn’t one of them.

  7. Here’s the things you mentioned above about the support that you received:

    1. Photography services
    2. A copy of the Parliamentary Register

    While these two things don’t amount to very much they probably should be made public since they added value to your campaign. After all, they are ‘donations’. For example, if Landlow gave the OBA finished copies of flyers and t-shirts would that have been different as opposed to giving the OBA $350k to make flyers and t-shirts? Get what I’m saying now?

    So, for the third time, let’s see the names!

  8. Pingback: Welcoming the Soap-Box | "catch a fire"

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