Sunday, January 15, 2017

Massive Bribery Scheme Uncovered

The recently concluded Village Council elections in La Plaine was no doubt widely watched by Dominicans across the political spectrum for many reasons, one of which was to determine whether the "win" by Petter St. Jean of the Dominica Labour Party in the 2014 General Elections was genuine or, as we all suspected, heavily tainted by the influx of large amounts of paid foreign voters. This time around there were no indications that Roosevelt Skerrit resorted to the same strategy of importing voters from the diaspora to corrupt the La Plaine plebiscite and, coming on the heels of a loss in the Canefield Urban Council elections just a couple months ago, it was critical to determine whether Mr. Skerrit's party could stand on its own without the assistance of a battery of bribed voters. The jury is now in.

Roosevelt Skerrit and Petter St. Jean have suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of upstart Jason Fontaine and his team of patriots. The lopsided win by Mr. Fontaine has undoubtedly demonstrated that given the chance, Dominicans will kick Mr. Skerrit out in a heartbeat. Even Labourites voted for Mr. Fontaine. Mr. Fontaine has pledged to work with all members of the Council for the betterment of La Plaine, and we must commend him on that. But we must also warn Mr. Fontaine that he must not allow himself to succumb to niaveté; all is not what it appears to be.

Mr. Skerrit may not have imported voters to influence the La Plaine ballot last week but, over an extended period time, he certainly pulled out all the stops to guide the vote towards his party. Through an intermediary, we have received a list of voters who appear to have benefited from thousands of dollars worth of "housing assistance" in the several months and up to a year leading up to the vote. The list shows that Mr. Skerrit's government authorized expenses at J. Astaphans and P.H. Williams totaling $253,332.03 of taxpayer-financed housing supplies for their preferred supporters. J. Astaphans got the most business, collecting $214,167.23 while P.H. Williams collected $39,164.80. Two supporters, Juliana Lewis and Netty Laudat each received $28,033.59 in supplies; Florence Stedman benefited the least, receiving only $877.68 in supplies. This appears to MiTC to be a clear case of embezzlement.

As you can see from this list, Mr. Skerrit's operatives took the time to check off each individual who received their ill-gotten benefits. The administrator, who remains unknown at this time, was paid $1,000 to execute the distribution of the supplies. In addition to that, a hand-written note indicates that a Ms. Belina Joseph was also due $200.

How much more evidence of unabashed, rampant corruption by Roosevelt Skerrit is needed to demonstrate to Dominicans that it is past the time to kick this government out of office. That's our tax dollars; this money did not come from Mr. Skerrit's pockets, although that would be our tax dollars as well. Mr. Skerrit's lawyer Anthony Astaphan has admitted that the US$400,000 paid by Susan Olde for our Diplomatic passports was used by the Dominica Labour Party to finance their election campaign. Those are our passports, the money belonged to us, but Mr. Skerrit's lawyer says on the record that the state's money was used to finance Mr. Skerrit's political party. That is theft. The Dominica Labour Party spent in excess of $30 million on the election campaign of 2014; is it that difficult to imagine that this money came from the state's coffers as well?

Public Works workers are still waiting to get paid. 

This report has been updated to reflect a more broader time period. This distribution of state money occurred over a  much wider time period than previously thought. We can confirm that the largess began several months ago and may have commenced as early as late 2015.

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