Fred Smith


Tribune Staff Reporter


OUTSPOKEN Queen’s Counsel Fred Smith has heightened the debate surrounding election campaign financing after he posted a video on Facebook in which he admits to sponsoring the Free National Movement’s efforts to remove the Progressive Liberal Party from office.

At a recent PLP rally, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell took to the stage and questioned whether the party will represent the interests of Bahamians over the interests of former Baha Mar owner Sarkis Izmirlian. He also renewed his party’s claims against Lyford Cay resident Louis Bacon, whom he described as a disgruntled billionaire who hated the PLP and funnelled money into environmental action group Save The Bays (STB) to serve that end.

Fred Smith, QC, one of the lead figures in STB, issued a video responding to Mr Mitchell on the issue. While he admitted to donating money to the FNM, he did not disclose how much.

“So Fred Mitchell, I hear you carrying on bad at the rally last night (Thursday) about me and saying that I’m giving the FNM money. Of course I’m giving the FNM money,” Mr Smith said, speaking to the camera as his shoes were being shined.

“I want you and the rest of your PLP cronies out of office on May 10. So stop whining and carrying on bad. If you want some of my money, ask for it. I might give you some. Although that may just help you get across the finish line and win, so I might not give you any.

“But just for the record, I am giving money to the FNM and if you want some, be nice and ask for some. In the meantime buddy,” Mr Smith said while holding up two-fingers in the FNM’s symbol. “I wish you out of office.”

“I support the FNM and we’re going to win on May 10,” the video response concludes.

When contacted yesterday, FNM Chairman Sidney Collie said there was nothing “unusual” about Mr Smith being a donor to the party.

“Fred Smith is a card carrying member of the FNM,” Mr Collie told The Tribune. “He applied (previously) to the FNM for a nomination. There is nothing unusual about an FNM donating to the FNM.”

Shortly after being elected to office in May 2012, Prime Minister Perry Christie spoke about the need for campaign finance laws, going so far as to state that the practice of politicians using money to persuade voters had deteriorated to “repugnant” and sometimes “criminal” levels over the previous 15 years.

At the time, Mr Christie said he would seek consensus on the issue, but would not force it through. The issue was never brought to Parliament for debate.

Some have found the PLP’s concerns over campaign finance tone-deaf, given the claims surrounding its relationship with fashion mogul and Lyford Cay billionaire Peter Nygard.

Recordings of Mr Nygard were filed last year as part of the murder-for-hire lawsuit waged against him by STB, wherein he is purported to claim that he donated $5 million to the PLP in the run-up to the last general election. In the recordings, Mr Nygard further claims that Mr Christie made promises to him that he had not kept.


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