DLP Politicians in Miami “Went wild at shopping and partying…”
“Custom made dress shirts at almost US$100 each”
Immediately after winning the January 2008 election, groups of DLP Members of Parliament were rotated through a week in Miami ostensibly to familiarise themselves with our consulate operations in that city.
That was the public story. The truth was something else…
An election celebration in Miami
According to an anonymous email* received at BFP, the main purpose of the Miami trips was to outfit each Member of Parliament with extensive wardrobes of business and casual clothing so they would project a professional appearance as a government member. The politicians were also provided with individual tutors who coached them in the niceties of being diplomats and politicians. At least one of the lecturers had close ties with the American Democratic party – the political party of President Obama.
(The source refers to a lecturer as being “from” the Democratic Party, but we are unsure what this means. BFP would appreciate it if the source could clarify this point and other questions at the end of this article.)
Most group lectures were held at a Miami hotel instead of the consulate as the election-winning DLP viewed the consulate as a BLP “fortress” still occupied by “the enemy”. There may have been some truth to that feeling as our anonymous source* appears to be an insider.
“Did you ever check the label on the inside of your Member of Parliament’s suit? You should because it was likely purchased with your tax dollars or with DLP political contributions.”
As expected, some of the newly elected politicians required more tutoring than others. The source states that at least one MP required extensive polishing and another behaved so badly in Miami that they lost any possibility of a future Ministerial position.
How much is too much – when there is no transparency, accountability or rules?
When BFP received this story we were of mixed opinions about the propriety of Members of Parliament being outfitted with business and casual wardrobes. We understood the diplomatic lectures and we probably could be convinced about the necessity of having each MP visit a relatively nearby consulate to learn and to network with the professional Bajan diplomats and staff who represent our country to the world.
We expect that the hotels and coach class airfares and reasonable meals would be expensed in a trip to the Miami consulate. We have no problem with that.
Where we have concerns is when our Members of Parliament are provided with extensive wardrobes of custom tailored business suits (@$US1000 per suit!), custom tailored shirts (@US$100 per shirt!) and multiples of the finest shoes, ties etc. That’s what happened according to our source.*
Then there is the matter of casual everyday clothes purchased as well. All the finest. All purchased and tailored in Miami and not Barbados.
Yes, our MPs purchased “accessories” like watches as they “Went wild at shopping and partying…” Our MPs “tasted champagne lifestyle for the first time” and liked it. We at BFP observe “Who of us wouldn’t like that lifestyle?” but it was a hell of a lesson for newly-elected MPs. The fatted calf was promised by Thompson and apparently that’s what our successful DLP politicians received.
Some flew to Miami by business jet
Our source states that some of the MPs flew to Miami in a borrowed (not government chartered) business jet, while others flew commercially. This once again raises the issue of secret contributions and benefits provided to our elected representatives by wealthy persons and businesses. Was the CLICO business jet used for the trips? Hey… didn’t Leroy Parris end up with a cushy government job at the CBC?
The DLP says that’s none of your business.
Where did all this money for the extensive wardrobes come from?
We understand that several DLP Senators and party insiders were also included in the Miami trips, but if we limit our thoughts to just the 20 elected DLP MPs and estimate US$5,000 per person on clothes and accessories (which is low by what we guess) that is US$100,000 spent on business and casual clothes.
Where did that money come from? The DLP election coffers? DLP supporters? Anonymous corporate donations? One big donor? MPs expenses covered by our tax dollars?
That matters because without election financing laws, integrity legislation, a Freedom of Information act, a Ministerial code and conflict of interest rules – the public is in the dark. And… everything is legal anyway because there are no rules.
What do you think?
Should our elected representatives have been provided with extensive wardrobes of business and casual clothing at no charge to the MPs?
Should the voters have a right to know how much was spent and where the money came from?
The next time you meet a DLP politician and he hangs up his jacket, when you hand it back to him have a look for the label. Is it custom made in Miami or off the rack in Barbados?
Or maybe… the label will be removed.
* This article is the result of an anonymous email received at BFP from a proxity-type remailer that hides the sender’s information. All we can say is that the email had the ring of truth. We’ve all seen the clothes and the cars that appeared miraculously within a month or so of the election. We’ve seen it every election with the BLP and the DLP but never in our memory like in January and February 2008 following the DLP victory when expensive clothes and new autos and 4x4s seemed to rain down upon newly elected MPs like manna from Heaven.
The source asked us not to directly publish the email because they were frightened that quoting the entire email might reveal their identity. We have taken brief quotes from the email that appear in quotes in our article. We have withheld a few crucial details because we want to see more..
We (and for sure our readers) would like to know more. If the source or anyone else wants to post something anonymously without revealing their identity or their IP computer numbers, they can do so through anonymouse.org or any of a hundred other anonymous proxies.