Attorney-General’s husband given contract worth almost $14,000 a month
The husband of the Attorney-General, Kathy Lynn Simmons, was awarded a government contract worth almost $14,000 a month by her ministry to “maintain continuity” while his replacement was sought.
The Ministry of Legal Affairs and Constitutional Reform told The Royal Gazette that Myron Simmons, a former senior Crown counsel in the Attorney-General’s Chambers, ended his employment as a civil servant on March 31.
A spokeswoman said: “There was a request by the advisory section of Chambers to engage him as a consultant to assist them in maintaining continuity in advisory functions and efficiencies, while they conclude recruitment.
“There are four vacant posts in the section. This was approved by the Head of the Public Service in accordance with Financial Instructions.”
The contract for Mr Simmons, who was accused by a judge of “suspicious conduct” for failing to pay stamp duty for clients while in private practice, was revealed by the Premier on May 19 in answers to a parliamentary question from the Opposition.
David Burt shared with MPs a list of 70 consultants appointed since January 2022 with the approval of the Head of the Public Service.
Mr Simmons was listed as “counsel” with a contract worth $13,721.96 per month from April 1 to June 30.
The legal affairs spokeswoman said: “There are provisions that allow for the appointment of individuals or companies in specialised fields to provide temporary consultancy services.
“All the requisite rules and procedures were followed by the Public Service to approve the positions shared in answer to parliamentary questions on May 19, 2023.”
The spokeswoman said the provisions were set out under Section 10.5 of Financial Instructions — the official set of rules for public servants for spending public money. The section states that the approval of the Head of the Public Service must be sought “to retain any consultant”.
Mr Simmons failed to pay $52,000 in stamp duty on behalf of clients Gena and Richard Robinson when he was in private practice, according to a Supreme Court judgment issued last year.
Puisne Judge Larry Mussenden wrote: “… it appears to me that the facts set out in the statement of claim give rise to suspicious conduct by the defendant in respect of his handling of client funds entrusted to him …
“Therefore, I am satisfied that it is just that I should refer this matter to the Commissioner of Police and the Director of Public Prosecutions for any action as appropriate …”
Police said in February that the case could not be “advanced” because the Robinsons had not made a criminal complaint.
The ruling by Mr Justice Mussenden came after the Robinsons brought a civil lawsuit against Mr Simmons; the Gazette is aware of at least 14 other civil cases filed in the past 15 years with the Supreme Court which name him as a respondent.
Five of them named Ms Simmons as co-defendant.
The Ministry of Legal Affairs has repeatedly refused to say if Mr Simmons faced any disciplinary procedure in relation to Mr Mussenden’s judgment because it does not “comment on personnel matters”.
The spokeswoman did not respond to a question last week about whether Mr Simmons resigned from his senior Crown counsel position or whether his new contract would be extended beyond June 30.
Ms Simmons did not respond to a question about whether any conflict arose for her in the awarding of a contract to her spouse by her ministry.
One Bermuda Alliance parliamentary questions have exposed the David Burt administration using taxpayer money to make considerable payments to PLP friends and family.
On the face of it, there is no legitimate justification for the Attorney-General’s husband receiving $13,000 of taxpayer money each month for undisclosed consulting services.
Bermuda’s top law officer must be beyond reproach.
Kathy Lightbourne-Simmons needs to explain to the public how she considered it appropriate for her husband to be placed on the David Burt adminstration’s payroll?
What consulting services are being provided to enable Mr Simmons to receive taxpayer funds?
How was it determined that only her husband could obtain this undisclosed role?
Who took the decision to pay $13,000 a month to the Attorney-General’s husband?
What role did the Attorney-General have in this whole affair?
It is seldom, if ever, appropriate for a politician to engage their family member to “consult” for the Government.
There better be a rock-solid reason why this family member was preferred over every other Bermudian, assuming the role even existed and was available to others, rather than specially created for her husband.
And why was this appointment kept hidden and not publicly disclosed?
The Attorney-General has some serious explaining to do if she is to ever regain the public’s trust.
For now, Bermudians need answers.
According to a published notice, Mr Simmons applied to incorporate a new private practice firm, Onyx Law, in March.