Integrity mandates disclosure

Jake over at Limey in Bermuda has his knickers in a twist over my post of a few days ago suggesting that some disclosure is warranted by the Royal Gazette when running polls produced by Research Innovations, run by Walton Brown, cousin of Premier Brown.

His argument seems to boil down to this statement:

"Walton Brown demonstrates that 'disclosure' is trumped by integrity."

Not quite. I would agree that it would be silly of Walton Brown to mess with his poll results, as an example, to pump his causes. He'd lose credibility.

And Jake is correct and fair in pointing out that Walton Brown routinely produces polls that are overwhelmingly against independence while he himself if an ardent independence advocate.

He's also right that Walton became an unlikely member of what Bermuda Independence Commission member - and now the Premier's consultant on race Rolfe Commissiong - termed the 'white cabal' critical of the BIC report (of which I'm an honourary member).

But the point remains. You err on the side of too much disclosure. The post was more about the Royal Gazette disclosing this as is their obligation in my opinion.

Research Innovations' polls have proven pretty reliable. That's true. But there are other aspects of the familial relationship that warrant disclosure beyond allegations of manipulation (which I don't argue is happening).

Situations like:

Would Dr. Brown get inside info on the polls?
Was Dr. Brown aware of the last poll results prior to publication and early enough to time his leadership campaign around that?
When Walton Brown interpets results and analyses situations (as he did the leadership challenge), could he not be swayed by his internal biases, best efforts to be objective notwithstanding?

I maintain that the disclosure if relevant.

My rule is that you always ask yourself if the shoe was on the other foot how would you feel. To PLP supporters such as Jake I'd ask: if the UBP leader's cousin was running polling for the daily paper would that be relevant and worthy of disclosure? You're damn right it would be.

The line that integrity trumps disclosure sounds nice, but integrity mandates disclosure.

For some reason in Bermuda we don't expect much disclosure, and that opens up challenges to integrity, and frankly many of the abuses of power we suffer from.

So I think Jake's defence of Walton Brown is valid to the extent that Walton and his polls have integrity. But that doesn't negate disclosure.

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