November 18, 2006

Pay to play version 2.0

A reader beats me to it:

"So the question is, why would anyone from the USA be interested in coming to this Gala Event?

"People seeking to influence events, e.g. Lobbyists, or the Bermuda
equivalent, which unfortunately is now part of our system."

Yep. We've been through this before, but back then the cheques payable to "Dr. Ewart Brown (PLP)" were for $2,500. Now that Dr. Brown is President, I mean Premier, he's added a zero to the end.

The first we got wind of this event was a couple of weeks ago in the final two sentences of an article announcing that Dr. Brown would be taking a victory lap around North America and the UK under the guise of visiting overseas students:

Dr. Brown is also planning a victory party following his recent elevation to the Premiership of Bermuda.

He is inviting overseas friends and family to a Premier’s Gala Weekend on January 12-14 to raise funds for the Bermuda Progressive Labour Party.

After stumbling across the gala announcement on the PLP's website last night, I spent most of the day chuckling about the details of the party which is so obviously modeled after a US Presidential inauguration, but mostly that Dr. Brown's wife has adopted the tile "First Lady".

But now it's time to focus on the implications of this event, something we went through with the Pay to Play scandal back in 2003, where Dr. Brown solicited political donations from Bermuda's American pension fund administrators, a shakedown if there ever was one.

Now we have this on a much larger scale. The leader of the country and one of our two political parties is seeking political donations from foreign sources.

In the US that is illegal. For obvious reasons.

Now, Dr. Brown's press secretary did say he was inviting friends and family from overseas, but are we really expected to believe that Dr. Brown requires his friends and family to pay up to $25,000 to play a round of golf, have dinner and have a photo taken with him? Please. This is about selling favours.

Having your politicians being financed by foreign interests is a dangerous and extremely distasteful thing. I can't say that strongly enough.

As my reader says, why would anyone from overseas want to donate to our local political parties, unless they expect a quid pro quo?

Any donor, but foreign donors in particularly, aren't going to pay up to $25,000 to attend this gala unless they anticipate having the favour returned. Political money is ruining the US political system and has legalised bribery in Washington (lobbyists), and unfortunately, our American President impersonator is importing the worst aspects of the American system to our shores.

If the PLP are financed by foreigners what does that say? Well it says a lot of things, but mostly it says that the Bermudian government, and Premier, is selling us out to the highest foreign bidder.

Shame.

Posted by Christian S. Dunleavy