In an interview from his hospital bed, political candidate Matthew Leslie sought to address an unfolding social media saga about his private life and confirmed he will stay in the race for the May general election.
Mr. Leslie became the center of attention last week after his wife went public with allegations of infidelity that were seized on by opponents as signs that he was unfit for office.
The independent candidate for the Prospect district, who said he initially believed his Facebook page had been hacked, acknowledged Monday that the messages were likely genuine and had been posted by his wife.
Mr. Leslie admitted that he sent “inappropriate messages” to another woman. But he has insisted that his married life is personal and should not impact his chances of being elected.
Speaking to the Cayman Compass from his hospital bed at Health City Cayman Islands, where the 350-pound political candidate is recovering from gastric sleeve surgery to help him lose weight, Mr. Leslie said the issue would not affect his candidacy.
He said, “At the end of the day, I don’t think my married life matters to the voter out there who is trying to make a better life. It doesn’t matter to the voter out there that needs a job, that needs to find a way to get food on the table, a roof over their head.
“My married life doesn’t effect a single voter who is trying to better themselves.”
The allegations surfaced Friday morning when Mr. Leslie’s wife, who he married in February, posted messages between him and another woman that she had apparently found on his Facebook account.
In those messages, Mr. Leslie appears to be attempting to convince the woman to come visit him in the hospital. On another occasion, he seems to be attempting to arrange a liaison in a hotel room for “love and cuddles.”
At one point, he agrees to give her $200 and cab fare.
When he was first questioned about the messages in a television interview Friday night, Mr. Leslie indicated that he believed he had been hacked.
He now acknowledges the messages seem to be genuine, though he claims not to have read them in detail, and that it was his wife who had posted them on social media, rather than a hacker, as he first assumed.
He said the messages were “inappropriate” for a married man, but said they went no further than flirtatious “trash talk” and that he had not, in fact, been unfaithful to his wife. He said he loaned and gave money to people all the time and the offer of $200 to the woman had been read out of context by some of his harshest critics.
“They’ve obviously expanded on a conversation and jumped to major conclusions as to the significance,” he said. “People come to me all the time asking for help, asking for money.”
The messages snowballed on social media amid broader allegations of inappropriate behavior toward women, some of them broadcast on Rooster radio’s “Crosstalk” show Monday morning by Sandra Hill, a community activist who had been outspoken about the posts from Mr. Leslie’s wife on Friday, reposting them across Facebook.
Mr. Leslie acknowledged that he had “partied hard” in his 20s and that he had some fun as a single man. But he classified it as a party stage that was in his past and denied more serious allegations of inappropriate behavior.
He says he is talking to his wife, but wishes the details of their marriage to remain private.
“I apologize to my wife for this public embarrassment, but at the end of the day it is our private affair that I wish to remain private ….”
Mr. Leslie said his personal life was not a factor in his public service or his desire to be in the Legislative Assembly. He said there are current and former politicians who had been accused of infidelity and others whose marriages had broken down while in office.
He said there were rumors of all kinds about many candidates and he does not believe personal issues of this nature have any bearing on their ability to do the job.
“We have had politicians that were great family men and some that were perfect disasters,” he said.
When it comes to casting a vote, he hopes people will focus on his good deeds.
“All the things that I have done, whether it was putting people in homes, sending aid to Haiti or getting help for people who reached out with problems, nothing in my personal life ever prevented me from doing any of that, nor will it prevent me from doing anything else for this country in the future,” he said.
Mr. Leslie said he has been inundated with messages of support following his operation, which he said was designed to help him live a healthier lifestyle, and that he is looking forward to getting back to campaigning, while trying to lose weight.
Mr. Leslie is running against Austin Harris, an independent candidate, and Lucille Seymour, of the Progressives, in the Prospect district.