Brown and Richards in contracts dispute
MP Walton Brown has accused Finance Minister Bob Richards of misrepresenting his income from Government contracts.
Mr Brown spoke out after Mr Richards said in the House of Assembly that Mr Brown had benefited from a $770,000 contract — a statement he later retracted and agreed was for several contracts.
But Mr Brown said: “The Honourable Member cited my contracts with the Bermuda Government as part of his argument about ‘insiders' during the debate on disclosure of interest by candidates.
“In describing me as an ‘insider' during the PLP's tenure in office, the Honourable Member is inferring unfair if not improper access to government contracts.
Mr Brown added: “My contractual relationship with the Bermuda Government began in 1989 when I was hired as a consultant by the National Alcohol and Drug Agency to rewrite an indecipherable report by an American consultant.”
And he said he had worked for the former UBP government on contracts that had not been put out to tender, “intermittently” under the PLP administration and into the OBA one, where his Research Innovations firm carried out a survey for the Tourism Board.
Mr Brown added: “The Honourable Minister for Finance will have this information at his disposal because he has, in his words ‘access to civil servants.'
“The Honourable Member will also know that I was clearly not an insider during the UBP years.
“Robust debate is the hallmark of the parliamentary system.”
But he added: “What must not be allowed is for members to present false information without consequence and to manipulate such information to denigrate one of our fellow members.”
Mr Richards, during the previous sitting of the House as Members debated the disclosure of interests by candidates, said that he had not disqualified himself due to a failure to disclose business links with Government in the run-up to 2012 General Election.
Mr Richards said any business dealings he had fell under exceptions to the rule and that he was entitled to stand as a Parliamentary candidate.
In addition to Mr Brown, he singled out a $450,000 consulting contract to now-PLP MP Rolfe Commissiong, while party leader Marc Bean between 2007-10 had a no bid contract under the previous Government worth $318,000.
Mr Richards added afterwards: “It could be a storm in a teacup if you look at it in the broader context but I am not having anyone cast aspersions on the legitimacy of my tenure in Parliament.
“Any time I see anybody try to do that, I fire back.”