Bulgin not budgin’

Attorney General Samuel Bulgin reaffirmed Wednesday he will not pursue an action to challenge the elections of Cabinet Minister Mark Scotland and backbench MLA Dwayne Seymour.

The statement followed a ruling by Chief Justice Anthony Smellie on Monday that threw out an attempted private-citizen challenge of the Bodden Town election results, but seemed to leave the matter open for Cayman’s attorney general to pursue.

Mr. Bulgin, however, did not seem inclined to do so as of Wednesday.

‘The Attorney General’s chambers does not wish to make any further comments beyond what was already said the 28th May, 2009,’ an e-mail from Mr. Bulgin’s office read.

According to that 28 May statement: ‘After considering not only the allegations but the law and the public interest, I take the view that although the Constitution provides that an application to the Grand Court to have an elected member disqualified from sitting may be made by the attorney general, among other described parties, that in the current circumstances this is not an action that I should take.’

Messrs. Scotland and Seymour, two candidates for the United Democratic Party government, won seats in the Legislative Assembly on 20 May in the Bodden Town district. It had been revealed well before the election that both Mr. Seymour and Mr. Scotland failed to register their interests in government contracts in time for the deadline mandated by Cayman’s Constitution.

Information regarding those contractual interests was filed four days after the deadline passed.

Mr. Smellie ruled Monday that a challenge against Messrs. Scotland and Seymour’s election by five Bodden Town voters had been brought too late to be valid under the Election Law (2004 Revision).

‘If the time limits imposed by the Elections Law can be by-passed, then there would be no time limits at all,’ the Chief Justice’s ruling stated. ‘That cannot be a proper interpretation of the Constitutional intent.’

However, Mr. Smellie’s ruling did leave the door open for Mr. Bulgin to bring a motion challenging the election ‘if it is appropriate to do so in the public interest.’

Mr. Bulgin’s 28 May statement explained some of his reasoning for not pursuing a challenge of the election results.

‘As an applicant, the attorney general would be placed in the position of pressing the court to declare a member of the Legislative Assembly disqualified from sitting, a role that seems to run contrary to the duty of the attorney to maintain absolute neutrality in political matters.’

In fact, Mr. Bulgin’s earlier statement indicated he would only appear as an advisor to the court, and not for one side or another, if any election challenge did go forward.

Even if the election challenge went ahead in Bodden Town and had been successful, the balance of power within the Legislative Assembly would not have shifted away from the current United Democratic Party government.