Appointment resolves audit committee flap

After a bit of political wrangling Wednesday, West Bay representative Capt. Eugene Ebanks accepted a nomination for membership to the Legislative Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee.

The committee’s work, which consists of reviewing previous reports of the Cayman Islands auditor general’s office and evaluating its recommendations, was held up following a dispute over the makeup of the committee. The political flap eventually led to the resignation of one of the committee members, government backbencher Alva Suckoo.

Opposition leader and West Bay legislator McKeeva Bush, who was not in attendance at the assembly Wednesday, had earlier objected to the Public Accounts Committee’s formation with four of five members coming from the government benches. Mr. Bush said the makeup was unfair to the opposition, particularly if the committee was to review reports done by the auditor general on the activities of the current government.

Prior to Mr. Ebanks’s appointment, Premier Alden McLaughlin attempted Wednesday to nominate East End representative Arden McLean, North Side representative Ezzard Miller and West Bay representative Bernie Bush to the vacant committee post.

All three men declined.

Mr. McLean said he appreciated the premier’s offer, but said the appointment to the committee came “a little late.”

The East End legislator said he put himself forward as a potential committee member on July 29 in the Legislative Assembly prior to a secret ballot vote on Public Accounts Committee membership. Mr. McLean and North Side representative Mr. Miller were both defeated in the vote at that time.

Mr. McLean said Premier McLaughlin hadn’t contacted him about the appointment to the committee prior to Wednesday, although he said he had received a call about it from committee chairman Roy McTaggart.

“I told him no then,” Mr. McLean said. “I would think the message had gotten back to the premier.”

Mr. Miller said he and Mr. McLean had put their names forward for the July 29 vote on the Public Accounts Committee membership to avoid the possibility that opposition leader Bush would be on the committee. Mr. Miller said government members voted against his appointment at that time.

Mr. Miller said he feared any PAC formation with opposition leader Bush on it would comprise a “dysfunctional committee.”

Mr. Bernie Bush, a first-term member of the assembly, said he declined the nomination to the committee because of his “inexperience.”

Mr. Ebanks – the last member available on the opposition benches – then accepted the nomination to the PAC.

Mr. McLaughlin said that both Mr. McLean and Mr. Miller had been offered positions on the Public Accounts Committee early on during his government’s administration. He said both initially declined.

“The games started long before this,” the premier said.