Sunday, February 18, 2018

Mariano can’t confirm or deny use of party funds

PNM treasurer Mariano Browne said yesterday he was unable to confirm or deny whether political leader Dr Keith Rowley used party funds to finance his campaign.

Rowley had instructed Browne to attend yesterday’s meeting of the PNM General Council to demonstrate whether what his opponent, Pennelope Beckles-Robinson was saying was true or not. 

Rowley said he was informed that his opponent Beckles-Robinson had stated that he was using party funds to support his personal re-election in the PNM internal elections. 

Rowley said if this were so, Browne as treasurer would know and therefore he wanted him to clear the air on such reports.

However in a response posted on his Facebook page yesterday, Browne said: “I cannot give Dr Rowley want he wants. There are a number of unpaid bills held by the General Secretary who authorises all bills for payment. There are many bills that have not yet been passed for my attention. I do not know what expenses they relate to. In addition, I am not clear when Dr Rowley’s campaign started. How do we characterise the meetings with the constituencies which were broadcast on radio etc, as meetings of the Political Leader or (meetings of) candidate Rowley?” 

Browne said Rowley’s latest salvo was a clever one. 

“On the platform, he directs, instructs the treasurer to confirm that he is not spending PNM money on the election campaign. First, by implication it attempts to throw me into the Penny camp/team and that consequently I am against Team Rowley. Second, it is an attempt to get me to give an endorsement indirectly. Third, it demonstrates that (Rowley) is in charge of the party and that I must follow his directives. Fourth, an endorsement of this statement confirms his ‘clean’ image.” 

Browne said he was for Team PNM. “This is not Rowley’s National Movement. Second I will recognise as leader whoever is elected. Third, there is a way to get things done,” he said.

General Secretary Ashton Ford said yesterday what Browne stated confirmed that no bills from the Rowley campaign went to him. Ford said the radio broadcasts are paid for by the Rowley team, not party funds. He said the fact that Browne was stating that he as treasurer had not received bills since the campaign, confirmed that Rowley’s campaign was being funded by other sources and not from the party’s coffers.

Team Rowley hosted a rally before the PNM’s internal elections on May 18 at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain yesterday.