Monday, April 6, 2009

Pirates of the Turks & Caicos: Part 2

My piece on the ongoing political crisis in the Turks & Caicos is now up at The Christian Science Monitor. Following the interim report of official corruption investigators, the prime minister resigned last month and the United Kingdom announced it intended to suspend the constitution and restore direct rule of the overseas territory.

At hearings earlier this year, investigators heard testimony suggesting what they later called "systemic venality" and "political amorality." Some highlights are in my Monitor piece, but if you've got time on your hands and want to read for yourself, all the transcripts from the Commission on Inquiry are available online.

The former Prime Minister, Michael Misick, declined to speak with me, but his friend (and Turks & Caicos Washington lobbyist) Jeffrey Watson did. You can read his salient remarks in the piece. (Watson surfaced during testimony about the private jets Mr. Misick had used, one of which turned out to be leased from a firm controlled by Mr. Watson.)

Some additional information for politicos: During our interview Watson initially denied that he was a registered lobbyist for the Turks & Caicos, despite having filed this form with Congress. He also suggested he did not have to file a lobbyist's disclosure form under the Department of Justice's Foreign Agents Registration Act on the grounds that the British Overseas Territory has no control over its foreign policy. He said he did not know why many other lobbying firms - including this one - had filed disclosures with FARA for their work for the government of Turks & Caicos.

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