By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
ISLAND Luck co-founder Adrian Fox says he has donated money to senior Progressive Liberal Party and Free National Movement politicians, insisting yesterday that donations are not what prompted Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis to write a letter as leader of the opposition urging a US judge to end a legal pursuit of him.
Mr Fox’s comments to The Tribune came after Mr Davis, during a press conference yesterday, again defended his decision to support Mr Fox.
“I’ve known Mr Davis for many years and when he wrote that letter on my part that was a demonstration of our friendship, not because of donations,” Mr Fox said. “He was trying to give a young individual a second chance.
“I have also donated a lot of money to the FNM, such people as Hubert Minnis, (Dionisio) D’Aguilar and Renward Wells and some other people. I’ve helped the PLP and the FNM. I’m a nationalist. I am trying to understand why they are signaling ‘Brave’ Davis like he did something for me for donations or political favours. He has been a mentor to me.”
Dr Minnis, Mr D’Aguilar and Mr Wells did not respond to messages seeking comment on Mr Fox’s claims before press time yesterday.
Mr Davis was one of several prominent PLP members who wrote character references supporting Mr Fox before the general election, urging a US judge to impose a light, non-custodial sentence on Mr Fox for the role he played in a human smuggling operation more than a decade ago.
For some observers, the revelation raised questions about political donations. The Bahamas does not have campaign finance laws despite repeated promises from politicians to enact such legislation.
Mr Fox has agreed to a plea deal with US authorities which omits all mention of human smuggling offences and has resulted in him agreeing to plead guilty to one count of helping to operate a vessel in US waters “in a grossly negligent manner.”
In an August 10, 2021 letter to Judge Denise Cote, Mr Davis praised the ways Mr Fox has transformed his life, calling him an exemplary citizen.
On Tuesday, the FNM released a statement saying that Mr Davis’ actions are “astonishing and reprehensible.”
“What is clear from news reports is that the entire hierarchy of the PLP also seemingly happened to feel that they too may have ‘had to do it’,” the FNM said. “Evidently a host of current PLP cabinet ministers, MPs and former MPs and ministers are reported to have waged a wholesale character reference assailment of the trial judge in New York,” the party said in a statement.
“While reports state that the then leader of the opposition, now prime minister, made it clear that he was writing in a personal, and not official capacity, the facts of a wholesale PLP campaign of character references before the New York court belies such assertions. The entire hierarchy of the PLP intervened in writing in a foreign criminal trial, on behalf of the convict.
“Just think of the national embarrassment we would suffer should each letter writer be summoned to testify in person before the New York court. Further, such a concerted move by the most prominent PLPs could only be seen and, now especially, can only be seen as reflecting the views of the highest levels, not just in the PLP, but now of the government of The Bahamas.”
For his part, Mr Davis told reporters at Baha Mar yesterday that he far from supports human trafficking.
“Again the typical modus operandi of the leadership of Hubert Minnis,” he said. “First of all, the charge that Mr Fox is facing now is a misdemeanor. He is being charged with mishandling or negligent handling of a vessel or boat. And as I indicated before, he was my client pre-2012. I was acting for him in this matter as a lawyer. When we lost in 2017 he engaged me for advice in respect to the matter and I wrote the letter for him which I said I’ll do again because I recognise how he has reordered his life for quite awhile. His philanthropy and the good he has been doing in our communities particularly the distressed communities, particularly now when so many people are hurting, is commendable. It baffles me to tie me to supporting criminality.”