Let’s review the sequence of events that has brought us to this point:
Dec. 24, 2007: Mr. McLean, then a Cabinet Minister, uses his government credit card to purchase a diamond-studded women’s Ebel watch for US$3,500.
Jan. 15, 2008: Mr. McLean writes a personal check to the government to cover the cost of his personal expense, in line with government’s accepted practice at the time.
Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014 — morning: Rooster Radio host Jonathan Piercy receives, and discusses extensively on the air, the results of an open records request, comprising statements for government credit cards issued to five current or former ministers (including Mr. McLean) and five current or former chief officers.
Wednesday, Aug. 13 — afternoon: The Compass receives the same set of credit card statements and begins to call the people involved for their comment. A reporter speaks to Mr. McLean, who declines to comment, citing “contempt of court” issues.
Tuesday, Aug. 19: The Compass publishes its first story on the subject, headlined, “Credit card records revealed.” The Compass reports that “there are indications” the card used to purchase the watch was issued to the ministry headed up, at the time, by Mr. McLean. The Compass states, “It is not known who in the ministry purchased the watch, nor is it known whether this purchase was made for personal reasons or for legitimate government purposes. Further, it is not known whether the amount was repaid, but the Compass is investigating this…” The Compass story includes Mr. McLean’s brief statement, and adds that the Compass had been unsuccessful in repeated attempts to contact Mr. McLean again by email, telephone and text message. After the story appeared, Mr. McLean talks about the watch, on radio and to the Compass, but does not categorically state whether the purchase was personal or for business or whether he paid it back.
Friday, Aug. 22: The Compass publishes a front page story headlined, “Watch linked to McLean’s card: Reimbursement details unclear.” In the story, government officials confirm the watch was not a business expense, and had been charged to the card issued to Mr. McLean, “but they were unable to confirm whether the credit card payment for the watch had ever been reimbursed.” The story includes, verbatim, Mr. McLean’s Aug. 19 comments, and notes that he had not responded to follow-up questions. Friday’s editorial, titled, “Spending Abuse: A swipe against the Cayman people,” criticizes Mr. McLean for his ambiguity and challenges him to answer directly the following questions — “Did you pay back the money for the watch?” and “Would you make public the supporting documentation that puts this issue to rest, once and for all?”
Tuesday, Aug. 26: On Rooster Radio, Mr. McLean slams the Compass for “harassing” him, says he did pay the money back for the watch and provides records that back his assertion.
Today, Aug. 27: The Compass publishes a front page story based on the new information provided by Mr. McLean, a copy of his statement (opposite) and this editorial.
We are pleased to print this information and to give Mr. McLean his due — but sharing his message and proof of his reimbursement to the public purse was, frankly, overdue.