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EDITORIAL - Mr Brady needs to say more

Published:Friday | March 19, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Harold Brady must dismount his high horse, abandon the churlish pretence that he has somehow been wronged, and offer the Jamaican people a full and frank explanation of why his law firm was purporting to act on their behalf.

Indeed, Mr Brady will understand if people conclude that his claim rings hollow, that it was an unintended error that caused a lobbyist's filing with the United States (US) government to indicate that his law firm represented the Jamaican state.

Moreover, it is unlikely to escape Mr Brady and the US firm of Manatt, Phelps and Phillips of the potential consequences if the US authorities were now to investigate and emerge convinced only of the verisimilitude of Mr Brady's explanation.

All of this ought to make this matter one of utmost interest to the Golding administration, to be handled with openness and veracity, mindful of the potential pitfalls of cover-ups, especially given the prime minister's statement on the issue yesterday.

Purported agreement

This matter arose this week when chairman of the Communications Commission of the People's National Party, Dr Peter Phillips, asked questions in Parliament about the purported agreement for Manatt, Phelps and Phillips, while engaged by Brady, to act as a lobbyist for Jamaica in "political and economic matters, including existing treaty agreements between Jamaica and the US". The American firm filed information to this effect with the US Justice Department and these documents appear on that agency's website.

Not surprisingly, there is speculation whether the lobbying is related to the current tension between Kingston and Washington over the Golding admi-nistration's rejection, up to now, of the US government's request for the extradition of West Kingston strongman, Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.

While we disagree with the Government's handling of the Coke case, there would be nothing wrong with Jamaica engaging a lobbyist to represent its interests in Washington. The Golding administration has, however, denied that it has. Mr Brady himself asserted that the claim in the filings that he was a consultant to the Jamaican Government was an error that was corrected. The revised filing was not produced.

More disconcerting is Mr Brady's hubris, especially in a situation where his American partners could be accused of breaching US lobbying regulations and where the threat of misrepresentation and fraud could arise in both jurisdictions.

Refuting 'entirely'

Indeed, the questions were based only on the information filed with the US government and made public by the American authorities. But rather than provide a measured explanation and/or clarification for the error, Mr Brady "refute(s) entirely as baseless the assertions made by the member of parliament (Dr Phillips) and as it is stated in the contract from which he quoted".

An obvious question is: How could Mr Brady and Manatt, Phelps and Phillips make such a significant error about who was to be the ultimate beneficiary of the lobbyist's effort - even if the information was later corrected - in a document that was filed with the US government? At the very least, both Mr Brady's firm and Manatt, Phelps and Phillips were sloppy.

Mr Brady says that his agreement with Manatt, Phelps and Phillips is because of the needs of his international law practice. The assumption, therefore, is that the efforts are on behalf of private clients. Who they are was not disclosed.

We suspect that US government rules would require that they be revealed. And Jamaica, in the circumstances, might want to know. Better and further particulars are required all round.

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