Embattled former Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush has lashed out at his successor, who he said was being “more than hypocritical” on the subject of government-sponsored travel during his administration’s first months in office.
“The extent that they went to berate and complain and point fingers, making ‘mountains out of molehills,’” Mr. Bush wrote in a letter to the Caymanian Compass on Monday. “Today, with just four months in office, [Premier Alden McLaughlin] and his team are already on the road quite a bit.
“Maybe he is doing what he said in the campaign they would do, ‘hit the ground running.’”
So far, Premier McLaughlin has managed to escape public criticism over his official travel to Trinidad, Florida, Jersey and Gibraltar. However, Education Minister Tara Rivers’s attendance at a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference held in Johannesburg, South Africa, which was not announced beforehand, drew considerable backlash for the new administration.
In addition, Mr. Bush lambasted Mr. McLaughlin for his attendance earlier this week at a KPMG-hosted conference in Miami.
“The meeting the premier [attended] this week is one he criticized me for attending,” Mr. Bush said.
Premier McLaughlin said Tuesday that Mr. Bush had missed the point about official travel and denied being hypocritical.
“I have never said the premier and ministers don’t need to travel,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “Of course we do. What I was and remain critical of was the extravagance of Mr. Bush. We do not need large entourages, first-class seats, limousines, security details and five-star hotels to do our jobs properly.
“Nor do we need to throw lavish parties at casinos or otherwise. I will not allow any member of government to go good-timing on the government’s tab.”
The former premier disagreed about the need for security services and transport in certain circumstances. “[The minister must be] ready, physically and mentally, after a three, eight, or 10 hour flying time to attend the meetings, immediately if necessary,” Mr. Bush said.
“One and all must surely leave the politics out and understand that, for this country to succeed, the premier and ministers must travel to be at meetings and negotiate on our behalf. To think otherwise is putting down the government, the country and all our people and not getting anything done.”
Mr. Bush has been charged with various dishonesty offenses under the Cayman Islands Anti-Corruption Law, which stem from his alleged involvement in the use of a government-issued credit card at casinos in Florida and in the Bahamas between 2009 and 2010. The former premier has denied wrongdoing and has accused the British government of conspiring against him in the prosecution of the case.
Mr. Bush’s trial on those charges is set for next year.