DARING BUNTING AND GOLDING - PNP leader’s ally blocked from taking Senate seat as Horne yet to decline nomination
It was King’s House which informed Mark Golding on Thursday that Peter Bunting could not sit at Friday’s sitting, plunging the opposition People’s National Party (PNP) into another round of turmoil.
Earlier this week, Opposition Leader Mark Golding disclosed that his long-time ally and business partner would be taking up duties as leader of opposition business in the Senate yesterday, having lost his Manchester Central seat in the September 3 general election.
The seat has remained vacant since the life of the new Parliament began as Norman Horne, who was nominated to the Senate by the Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips, had declined the post, saying that he would allow the winner of the November 7 PNP presidential race to make the pick.
The Gleaner understands that Golding, who emerged victorious over Lisa Hanna, and Horne had a discussion on the matter and it appeared that Thursday’s development took them both by surprise.
King’s House indicated that a new person could not be nominated to the Senate without Horne formally withdrawing his nomination.
In the process of Golding requesting that Horne “do the right thing”, The Gleaner was told that Horne, a former treasurer of the PNP, told Golding the party had owed him $10 million.
Sources said Golding was unreceptive to the disclosure and the conversation ended between the two.
This set the stage for the drama to play out before the nation’s eyes at yesterday’s sitting of the Upper House.
It seemed all was in place for Bunting’s transition and Donna Scott-Mottley told Senate President Tom Tavares-Finson that it would be her last sitting as leader of opposition business.
It was then revealed that Horne was still scheduled to take the vacant seat in the Upper House and so Bunting could not be sworn in.
Gleaner sources say Horne’s alleged dual citizenship could render him ineligible to sit in the Senate as well.
But in 2007, the PNP had said that Horne, who was among its slate of candidates in the election that year, had surrendered his United States citizenship.
An October 7, 2020 letter, purportedly written by Horne, has fuelled speculation over the reason he may not have followed through with the plan to decline the nomination to the Senate.
The letter, which was addressed to then PNP General Secretary Julian Robinson, stated that the party owed Horne $19.38 million and that he had agreed to prepay membership dues up 2032 costing $60,000, in addition to a $1-million pledge he made at the party’s 2017 conference.
This businessman also pointed out that separate sums of $149,760 and $486,894 were to be deducted as group dues.
He said a personal contribution of $7.67 million was also to be deducted, which he calculated would leave the amount due to him at $10 million.
Sources close to Horne have denied that he is holding the party at ransom for the Senate seat.