By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
FORMER State Minister for Legal Affairs Damian Gomez said allegations about the relationship between Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard and the Progressive Liberal Party are “not a good thing for the country,” adding that he hopes it spurs legislative reforms like the passing of campaign finance laws.
In secret video recordings that are part of a Save the Bays case before the Supreme Court, Mr Nygard alleged in conversations with Livingston “Toggie” Bullard and Wisler “Bobo” Davilma that Prime Minister Perry Christie promised him a lease to build on government land.
In one video, Mr Nygard alleges that he “pissed away” $5m dollars to the Progressive Liberal Party only to be disappointed by “fake promises” from the prime minister.
Mr Gomez said he doesn’t know if this donation allegation is true.
“I’m a member of the PLP,” he said. “From where I stood in the election, I could not believe that they would’ve had those kinds of resources. I know I went to the bank and funded my own campaign. If I knew resources were available that I could’ve accessed, I would’ve done that.”
Mr Gomez has been the most vocal member of the government when it comes to calling for campaign finance legislation, describing it yesterday as “overdue.”
He said “no” when asked if he is aware of any efforts by the government to bring such laws to Parliament, despite Mr Christie’s statements of support for such laws after the last election.
Asked about the perceptions arising from allegations that the PLP received $5 million from Mr Nygard, Mr Gomez said: “The purpose of campaign finance reform is to limit contributions to under $5,000 so no one can actually make such a large donation that one could suspect that they are getting something back from it and that’s the whole point of it.”
An exasperated Marco City MP Greg Moss also weighed in on the issue yesterday, saying the political system of this country is “manifestly corrupt.”
“I have thus far not spoken on the mid-year budget or those allegations because I am convinced that there is a disconnect with this circus show we have in this House and what’s going on in this country,” Mr Moss, who quit the PLP last year, said.
“We have members of the government being accused of being complicit in egregious conduct with discreditable people and their response is that the opposition is no different and the opposition’s response is that the government’s no different and the people are the ones suffering. This disconnect is disheartening to me.”
Mr Moss said any government that’s serious about dealing with corruption will pass an “enforceable” Prevention of the Corruption Act and the Freedom of Information Act.
“Neither of those governments have done it,” he said. “Neither of them are interested in doing it and all we are talking about here is the latest dirt on one party as opposed to the dirt which has been mentioned before that has yet to be uncovered and exposed on the other party. It makes no difference to the people. This is a charade. This is a spectacle.”
Mr Moss also spoke of the need for campaign finance legislation, saying: “If you are serious about campaign finance reform, it’s not just about limiting the amount of money that can be donated to somebody, it’s a matter about making public access to all opinions.
“We have a system that is manifestly corrupt. We may want to gloss over that all we want but it is a manifestly corrupt system. The question is do we want to continue to play politics over that or do we want to get serious and change it?”
In a video recording on May 10, 2015 between Mr Nygard, Mr Bullard and Mr Davilma, the fashion mogul criticises Mr Christie for making “fake promises” over the issuance of a lease for which, he claims, he had received authorisation nearly 25 years ago.
Mr Nygard said: “There’s no f*ing reason it should take this long and keep making these fake promises and promise after promise. He was very distant because he was embarrassed about meeting me, you know?”
Responding to assertions by Mr Bullard that the PLP needed his sponsorship, Mr Nygard said: “Yeah, they’re fed because no one else is going to do it.”
Mr Bullard then said: “No one else is going to sponsor them. Five million dollars? No one else is going to do it.”
Mr Nygard replied that Craig Flowers, CEO of the FML Group of Companies, had also been a major sponsor of the PLP, but was now “pissed off” with the prime minister for breaking every promise he made to him.
In another meeting with the men on May 12, Mr Nygard said he was close to leaving the country because he felt the prime minister was wasting his time. Mr Nygard said: “I’m not putting this s here now (stem cell facility), I pissed away $5m. Since the PM got me involved its cost me five (expletive) million dollars of bulls s.”