Christian says process unfair

| 28/06/2013

richard-christian.jpg(CNS): Richard Christian, who was bumped off the ballot sheet in Bodden Town before the general elections because he has a US passport, says that if Tara Rivers, a successful candidate for West Bay, loses her seat over a challenge on the same issue, she could then renounce her US citizenship and run in any subsequent by-election, an opportunity that he was not given. Rivers, who is now a Cabinet member, must defend her right to run in the May election on 17 July, when the court will hear both side of the petition challenging her qualifications on two counts, one of which is that she may still hold  US passport. Christian said he was “closely watching Tara's case” and was currently looking at his options regarding further action.

Christian was nominated as a People’s National Alliance candidate in Bodden Town but later advised by the district’s returning officer, Ned Solomon, that he was not qualified to be a member of the Legislative Assembly, pursuant to section 62 (1) of the Constitution. This is the section that deals with nationality as Christian owns a valid American passport. As this is considered an allegiance to another country, the official concluded that Christian could not run and the Elections Office said his name was removed from the ballot.

“On Nomination Day when the returning officer for BT asked me whether I would give up my US citizenship, I advised him yes. When I was called later that evening by the BT returning officer, one of the supervisors from the Elections Office and someone from the Attorney Generals Chambers, I asked whether I could give up my US citizenship before election day and I was told no it was too late," Christian told CNS. “My concern now is if a by-election is called in WB, it could give Tara the opportunity to renounce her US citizenship and run again, whereas I was not giving that opportunity.”

The petition challenging Rivers’ election as a member of the Legislative Assembly for West Bay was filed on behalf of John Gordon Hewitt, the husband of Velma Powery-Hewitt, the UDP candidate who came in fifth in the district poll. The petition claims she did not fulfill the residency requirement to qualify as a candidate. Hewitt also states in the petition that Rivers was born in the US and continues to hold a passport through her own act, which also disqualifies her from office.

“Tara, Cline [Glidden] and myself all appear to be in the same boat, but why was it that the returning officer for WB was allowed to nominate them, whereas the BT returning officer disqualified me?” Christain asked. “To my understanding, all three of us got that late call and/or in some cases was called to a meeting the day after nomination day at the elections office and the supervisor for the Elections Office knew the circumstances of each of our cases and therefore should have ruled that all 3 cases be treated the same.”

The would-be politician said he was not aware that holding a valid US passport was a ground of disqualification. “My interpretation (as well as a few lawyers I spoke with) of 62 (1) (a) was if you obtained a second citizenship by your own act. I felt that I was qualified as 61 (2) (b) states I can have another ‘citizenship’ by birth,” he said.

“To me the passport is just a travel document and prior to 9/11 US citizens could travel to Cayman with a drivers license and birth certificate which I use to do. When it became mandatory for all US citizens to have a valid passport, I had no other choice but to renew,” Christian explained. He said that section, which reads: "by virtue of his or her own act, under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or state", is very broad.

“Being born in the US, I have a US birth certificate. Is applying for a copy of your birth certificate considered acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or state?” he asked. “One of the questions that the BT returning officer asked me was which immigration line do I go in when I arrive in the US. To me that question serves no purpose, what do foreign nationals do when they go in the visitors line only to be told by the immigration officers to go in the US residents line because it's shorter (it has happen many times). Does that mean you’re a US resident?”

US law states that people who relinquished their US citizenship are subject to an exit tax on everything they own as if they had sold it all. If an individual has filed tax returns for seven years they can proceed with relinquishing their US citizenship, but the process involves lengthy form filling, an interview at the US embassy, reflection time for the individual to seriously consider the implications of their actions and then a decision process by the US authorities. 

People who live in the Cayman Islands who are US citizens, green card holders or even just have spent more than 183 days in any calendar year in the United States, are all required to file tax returns in the US, as they may be liable to pay tax there.

Those living and working outside the US are permitted to earn US$95,100 per year before becoming liable to pay tax, but tax returns must be filed to enjoy this benefit. 

“If the IRS gets to you first they have the ability to deny you the exclusion,” according to US tax expert Shawn P Wolf.

Related articles:

Owe US tax? Get a tax lawyer (CNS Business, 1 February 2012)

Dump Uncle Sam, pay exit tax (CNS Business, 2 February 2012)

PNA hopeful off the ballot (CNS, 2 April 2013)

Christian denied appeal (CNS, 3 April 2013)

Rivers' election challenged (CNS, 13 June 2013)

Election challenge hearing set (18 June 2013)

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Category: Politics

Comments (73)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Toys. Pram. Out. Complete. Lack. Class.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Richard, you need to understand what a birthright really means. That's the difference between you and Tara. 

  3. Anonymous says:

    Tara has a great case: she was away becoming a qualified lawyer. For those who may not be aware, this involves becoming "articled" i.e. you work for a law firm for a certain period of time. And, yes, you are paid for your work. Legislators are the lawmakers, so it is great for the country to have qualified lawyers as legilastors. If Tara does not win this case, I want the constitution changed. How can we hold it against our own Caymanians who want to run the country to go overseas and become lawyers?

    • Anonymous says:

      Great for the country to have lawyers as legislators?  I would strongly disagree.  Their jobs are immensely varied and it takes a specialist to scribe laws.  Just about anyone with a reasonable IQ can effect changes to the law but they dont have to write them.

      In my view it is a disadantage to have too many lawyers in government.  I would rather have a well rounded person with intelligence that understands the social problems, cultures, backgrounds etc.  Someone that can truly represent the people because he is one of them and has not placed himself on a pedastal or become a politician for financial security.

      Sadly I think there are not too many.

       

      • Anonymous says:

        Nonsense. That hasn’t worked out well so far, has it? Go the U. S. Senate and House and to the UK House of Commons and you will find they are dominated by lawyers. Lawyers are less likely to become politicians for financial security than the average Joe you are looking for. They also have keen analytical minds that can deal with the issues that confront this country.

        • Anonymous says:

          Precisely my point.  It isnt working in the US or UK is it?

          Keen analytical minds are not exclusive to lawyers either

    • sickntired says:

      For your info if you look at her Bio she was already  articled in 2006 which is 3 years before working for allens law firm in england.  Case don't seem so strong does it.

    • Anonymous says:

      She worked as an associate not a trainee.  So your "great case" is in fact what we like to call a "crap case".

  4. Anonymous says:

    You are wrong, if Tara broke the law, then she must removed. I voted for her thinking that at the very least, she most of all, should have known that she was clearly eligible torun. Now it seems as if she didn't even know that. That does not a good lawyer make nor an honest and transparent politician. Remember that the C4C campaigned for "honesty and integrity". Wow, did not take long for that to be tested.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I am so discouraged by the number of people who say, forget the law, the people want Tara.    So we are teaching our youth that if they can get away with breaking the law because they are popular, that is fine.  So we are just a lawless bunch if that is the case.   If Tara did nothing wrong, let the Court vindicate her and we all shut up and let her do her job.   If she did something wrong no matter how popular she is, she has to be accountable and those who allowed her to break the law should be accountable as well.   The point is, I support Tara one hundred per cent.  I think she will do a great job but the law is the law and if we make exceptions then we are creating the same corruption that we pretend to be upset about when its someone less likeable or popular.   How would you feel if your child or other relative is arrested for a crime and your neighbour is also arrested for the same thing but because your neighbour is well liked and popular he is allowed to get off.   Let the law be equal and let us stop saying we are a god fearing people only when it suits us.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I think it is unfair that public servants making over 100K a year are able to use public funds for the use of gasboy for their own vehicles on private use, but it still goes on.  The system is unfair corrupt, and it remains to be seen if this governmeng will clean it up, adjust the election rules or we can wait for the UK to do it for us.

    • Anonymous says:

      Perhaps Alden would like to comment on this? He bloody well should.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Seems to me that crab season is year round in Cayman Islands. Mr. Christian does not seem to care about his process, but he is simply saying if he was not allowed to run, he does not care what the people want, but he dont want to see Tara in the MLA. How strange it is UDP lite / PNA and the real deal UDP are all the same. Is it a requirement to have such character to be part of the UDP?. I  am really hoping now for a by-election, even if Tara does not get to run for this by-election, the PPM canidates are already seem to be a people choice and Im sure the Bayers was already have some regret about not voting for the good old PPM guys. you gotta admit they look good in the Tux as well as jeans and t-shirts. Just was so sick of all the hands in the pocket for every deal that was being done, even before the deal was done the request for pay outs was already being made. Richard you want to make a difference? then fight along with Tara, the members of the election committee should all be sacked for such slackness. But this is Cayman, errors are normal to be forgiven depends on who you know and who knows you. The canidates should not be able to have a choice to answer or not to answer certain questions that can leave doubts. Its either they are eligible or not to run for MLA in the districts.

    • Anonymous says:

      RE Elections Committee – I think you mean 'strengthen the law'. There is currently no way for the elections office to force candidates to answer their questions. The candidate makes their declaration that they eligable. (the only 'question' they have to answer.) This is taken at face value. Questions can be asked, but there is no investigative power. Its up to 'people who know' to challenge if they believe someone lied when they declared their eligability. (Or to challenge if they feel the elections office denied their candidacy improperly.) Its not a great system (cost of court for the challenger) but think about the logistics if the elections office had to investigate every candidate thouroughly and make a semi-judicial ruling. We'd need to declare 12 months in advance. (& make the candidacy requirements much more detiled, such as submission of passports, etc. And maybe open up the immigration records of candidates to the elections office/public, etc.) This (elections office investigating candidates) may be where we need to go but think of the logistics of that before calling for it.

  8. Anonymous says:

    He struck me as having many qualities Caymnan would not want in its politicians.

  9. sickntired says:

    It amazes me how this islands works.  Ms. Heweitt and her husband are now receiving nasty letters in the mail.  PPL get it straight Ms. Hewitt is not doing anythign wrong she is doing what is in her legal right to do.  It is Ms. Rivers actions that need to be questioned.

    • Anonymous says:

      It is in her (her husband's) legal right to do this however I question the manner in which they have approached this. It begs to question why they did not bring this action prior to the general election but instead wait until afterwards when the result was that Velma lost and Tara won. I'd venture to bet that if the results were that Velma won we would not be seeing this challenge at all. The fact is though that even if Tara is removed Velma will not waltz into Tara's position nor will the people of WB vote her into office.

  10. Anonymous says:

    It doesn't matter whether he stood a chance of winning. He has pointed out a flaw in the system that should be of concern to all of us.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Yes, I can explain.  The Charges were brought prior to the election date to influence the results.

    • Anonymous says:

      First you were insisting that charges should have been brought at arrest, ie they were too ate and now you are saying they were too early. Lol. They were brought when the DPP considered they had sufficient evidence to bring them. Did they influence the election? I sure hope so. There would be little hope for our people if they didn’t.

  12. Anonymous says:

    15;35

    Let me say this for what its worth. No swithching of any ballot boxes were switch.

    Agents from every party, independents and personel from the election office,  were present at all times, while the ballots are posted.

    Whenever  the clock striks 6 pm, all in the room witness the sealing of the boxes. the boxes along with the group of people mentioned above, along with the police boards the bus, and deliver these boxes to the various count station. in this last election, the boxes were moved to a special room for tallying.

    What i did hear kicking around, was that, the party with tons of money  paid off alot of the UDP voters to split, and share their votes.

    This is normal in any society, especially  with a majority of  poor people.

    It was revealed  to me by my Jamaican buddies,that when they  went to cast their  votes, certain people were at the gates offering up to 10,000 jacan dollars to vote for Portia.

    I rest my case.

    • Anonymous says:

      “Normal in any society”? I think not. Normal in a corrupt society or the impoverished third world, perhaps.

  13. Anonymous says:

    People like you Fri, 06/28/2013 – 17:19 are so mean spirited. The man has a right to question the fairness of the process, whether or not he would have been successful is not relevant at this point.

  14. Anonymous says:

    17;19

     

    This is  not about Richard  winning. It is a bout integrity , honesty and transparency.

    These loyalty,values,and principals are the same charateristic that you all put down makeeva for. 

    How amazing is it now, that  you all want to throw these principal  out the door, just  because you think  Tara should ignor the law, and move on.  

    • Anonymous says:

      Dear 6:40, this case is not about honesty and integrity. Lest anyone forget: Hewitt wants to be inserted into Tara's spot; that is what Hewitt asked for in this case. Did Hewitt ask Tara to apologize for misleading her WB constituents, and now the rest of the country? No, Hewitt is accusing her on a technicality (working whilst studying overseas), and on something else that I really hope she was not stupid enough to do (run with an undeclared US passport), but we will all soon know.

  15. Truth says:

    Its still third world.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Its the laws ofthe constituation …dummy! you just cant let Makeeva be, cant you? what in the hell did this man did to  you,  to hate him so? that black crab mentality is so strong in this Island.

    • SSM345 says:

      The only people in the Cayman Islands who have extreme difficulty understanding "what McKeeva has done" are those that voted for him in West Bay. Everybody else understands. People who do not live in the Cayman Islands understand. I bet if you explained it to Shamooo in sign language, that the whale would understand.

      Trying to explain the damage he has caused and continues to cause whilst still being in Government, whether or not he is innocent till proven guilty is like trying to teach you all Chinese from Spanish Rosetta Stone.

      It is Impossible.

  17. Anonymous says:

    The passport is irrelevant in both cases. Richard was off the island being a good dad. Tara was a working student. One is permitted, the other not. The law is unclear and unjust. It needs to be addressed. There was plenty of time to entertain this discussion before Election Day. Now it just costs money and serves nobody to contest.

    CNS: I think you may be confused between Richard Christian and Kent McTaggart (C4C candidate steps aside to avoid controversy).

  18. Slowpoke says:

    Now that people are finally realizing how bad this constitution really is, how about another vote to see if we want it implemented? 

    And, how about he same criteria as required for the OMOV?

  19. Anonymous says:

    I wonder if all the candidates who lost the race in WB can seek compensation from Tara/C4C to at least pay their nomination fees to have all their names put on the ballot in the event of a by-election?*lol….food for thought, maybe more lawsuits on the way

  20. Anonymous says:

    Can someone remind me again who this Richard Christian is?

  21. Anonymous says:

    "Im confused now"

     

    Yes, I agree.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I agree that the present system is unfair as Mr. Christian has clearly stated.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well i dont see the case in truth.

      There is no by election in BT.

      There may be one in WB.

      My contention would be that the elcetions office evaluated who was elegible to run.

      They stopped 3 candidates 2 in BT and 1 in the Brac.

      Why did they not stop Tara?

      Which ever way this goes will not end up good.

      If Tara wins then the two in BT will contest their exclusion.

      If she loses does she not have a case against the elections office for a law suit?

      • Anonymous says:

        Does she have a case against the elections office? For lying to them? – ?????? – Remember, the candidates declare that they are eliggable. Tara did so. If it turns out that she isn't eligable how is someone else liable for that?

        • Anonymous says:

          anon 2046 I would have expected that they would have investigated it although they have limited resources.

          Knowing that she worked in the UK and has US citizenship should have raised a flag calling for some investigation. Or perhaps you prefer the country to go through a bye election?

          I trust that if she is guilty that she will not be allowed to run.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Why is he still trying to relevant? Not like he would have gotten in anyway if he was able to run, or even come close.. How about you talk about the issues Mr. Christian and some possible solutions not some assumptions and gossiping.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Don't worry Richard, you wouldn't have won anyway.  Bodden Towners was not voting UDP in at all.  If Tara was to run again, she'd win by an even bigger amount than last time.

    • Anonymous says:

      Such a display of ignorance. Now we totally ignor the law, so Tara can continue to breach it.

      Some of my  Caymanians are sore losers. This has nothing to do with Bodden Towners not voting for Richard.

      It is a bout the dishonesty of Tara, to not reveal to Mr. Solomon that she held duel nationality…whats so hard to comprehend about that?

      People like you, is  ruining   this country for most of us. Whats good for the goose is good for the gander…do not forget that!

      • Anonymous says:

        Firstly, Mr. Solomon was the returning officer in BT,, and secondly, the article states that she also spoke to the various officials. How do you know what was disclosed and what wasn’t. It seems as if there were two different interpretations of the Law.

        • Anonymous says:

          There are two Mr. Solomon, as returnng officers. One for West Bay and one for BT.

          This doesnt suprise me one bit,  that these  islands have  been ruled  on two different interpretations of our existing  laws.

          As i see it, the laws were put in place by the educated and the elites… loooong time ago, to manipulate the the poor and the  pesants of their respected countries. We do not need to know what was said to Mr. Solomon.

          The laws should have been clear cut.

          Up until now, no one can understand or interpret the election laws. It seems like the very lawmakers,  that wrote it, cant understand it themselves. Other wise it would have been clear cut and we wouldnt have to waste money and time to take it in front of a judge for interpretation. 

           

  25. Knot S Smart says:

    Dont get too stressed about it all – my friend.

    You did not stand a snowball's chance in hell of winning anyway.

    • Anonymous says:

      14;38

      I hope you feel big expressing your sentiments. lets break the law! isnt that what we Caymanians alway do? the law never applies to us!

  26. Anonymous says:

    I agree. On another note, Mac court date set for March 2014. And  the other day b4 election is date was set b4 election. Im confused now. Even when he requested for his date to move to June after the election teh court refuse. And now it sets all the way to March . I @ a lost. Can someone explain please. Thanks

  27. Anonymous says:

    Is there any truth to the story that the ballots of the 2009 constitution were destroyed immediately following the release of the results? I have heard that was the case; normally ballot papers and other documents are held for one year.  Also, has anyone ever enquired or wondered why it was one whole week after the 2009 elections before the result of that simple, one question referendum was released?

     

    Would love to hear from anyone who may have some factual insight into either of the two questions.

     

  28. Anonymous says:

    Anyone who had the support of the C4C were highly favoured and that, I believe, is the reason why Tara'swas 'overlooked'.

     

    Many aspect of the 2013 election does not seem fair.  I remain to be convinced that, simply because "international observers" were here, means that the movement of thos ballot boxes were done properly and without some switching taking place along the way.  Certain boxes took inordinate amounts of time to be moved from one location to the next.

     

    • Anonymous says:

      Wasn’t Kent McTaggart endorsed by C4C? Well, that destroys that theory.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Yes, it is not fair.  Richard, I would say fight for a level playing field.

  30. Rrp says:

    Tara may be disqualified for her work abroad and/or holding a US passport but others with 10s of charges hanging over them can run and some actually win and become honorable leaders of opposition.

    How is this possible?

    • Anonymous says:

      Welcome to the Cayman Islands, have a nice day.

    • Anonymous says:

      It's called innocent until proven guilty and they both have their day in court to prove their cases. Nothing wrong with dat,that's called justice.

  31. Anon says:

    What a waste of money this is at a time where govt has no money. People need to understand that launching these cases costs the cig money which in turn costs us all.

    Elections office needs to make sure each candidate is eligible to run before they are listed. None of these optional declarations. The law needs to be changed to make crystal clear the criteria which needs to be met by each potential candidate.

    Now let’s go fix this issue.

  32. Anonymous says:

    O-M-G.

    If it looks Caymanian, walks Caymanian, has Caymanian family and was voted by her Caymanian consituents, and is willing to work as a Caymanian for the betterment of West Bay and our country, then why does this really matter?! I understand that she may have broken a subsection of the constitution but its clear that the almost half the WB electorate wants Tara. 

    Personally, I think a referendum should be offered to the people of the Cayman Islands as to whether we as a country want Tara to stay or go. The law is meant to favour the public and if the public wants her, she should stay. If not, well, by-election it is!

  33. Anonymous says:

    That's right Richard fight for your rights.  Ms. Rivers needs to be disqualified, this is shameful.

  34. Anonymous says:

    1) The law is clear. You have to be eligable when your nomination is due. Was Tara eligable on nomination day? Thats now a question for the court. Will she be eligable on the day of nomination for a by-election? Thats a seperate hypothetical question.

    2) Richard is assuming that everyone who 'got the call' gave the same answer. This is a false assumption. CG has said 'I am not American', or didn't answer, or whatever a West Bay politician of long-standing says or doesn't say to keep campaigning. (Richard's problem is that his running-mates, as seen in the previous election, just ignore the rules and then expect them not to stick. And he expected the same 'oversight' this time, despite the hue and cry from the public for four years on doing things by the book. CG knows the rules and made sure they either didn't apply or didn't stick. I don't know which it was and frankly it doesn't matter at this point.) In fact, Richard is implying that both CG and Tara should have been disqualified. Which is what the court case is to prove in Tara's case. So hopefully Richard will be appearing as a witness for the Hewitts since he seems to know something.

    3) Anyone saying 'I didn't know' needs to make sure they know what they're doing before they try to run the country. This may include reading the local newspaper where this very issue was a front page story with another candidate who did get her situation sorted out in time. So its not like this was some secret surprise. Its been in the law since the old constitution. And been an issue for other elections/candidates before this election. Even a high profile case previously from Boden Town IIRC. So not knowing is no excuse.

     

    Milk & Carrotts

    • Anonymous says:

      You are confusing matters. Sharon Roulstone renounced her US citizenship on the basis that she had acquired it, not by virtue of her birth in the US but on the basis of parentage. She expressly stated that had her sister been running for office she would not have had to renounce her US citizenship since she acquired it by virtue if her birth in the US. In other words, it appears she had the same interpretation of the foreign citizenship restrictions as Tara.

      • Anonymous says:

        Milk & Carrotts, I'm not confusing things, you're pre-judging the case. If Tara's US citizenship (or whatever) isn't an issue then the court will see that and rule accordingly. The debate isn't about Tara – thats going to be settled in the court – its about Richard – who doesn't get that if you're not eligable you shouldn't be allowed to get elected and that in his case the elections office was able to make that determination in advance in Tara's case its going to take a court case to sort it out. Possibly because some people answered yes and other peoeple answered … whatever they say in curt they answered to the 'phone call'.

        • Anonymous says:

          Lol. You really are confused. Nothing in my post prejudged the case. But obviously yours does. Richard’s point is that US birth citizenship point does not fall to be determined by the Elections Office but by the court.

  35. Anonymous says:

    Richard has a very valid point. It does appear that everyone was not treated equally or fairly and suggest that there was more politics to this than should have been.

  36. Anonymous says:

    Exactly Richard.  You were not given a fair chance and that is why justice must prevail and Ms. Rivers must be removed from her seat.  I am behind you 100% Mr. Christian

  37. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Christian. You are entitled to fair treatment. Fight for that – by all means – but I do not see how it can help you personally. You could have renounced your US Citizenship upon turning 18, without penalty. You chose not to.You then compounded your problem by renewing your passport and thereby confirming your allegiance to a foreign power. Have a close look at the US passport application form if you do not believe me. You habve a clear duty to the United States. That duty may conflict with your duties to the Cayman Islands. Neither I, nor our Constitution it seems, want any leaders who are in any doubt as to where their primary loyalty lies.

  38. Anonymous says:

    The bothersome question is: did Tara declare prior to nomination that she held a US passport? I still believe tho that the outcome will hinge on the residency question – can she prove that she was legally “A STUDENT” for the purpose of eligibility to be a candidate in the election.

  39. Who else ? says:

    Dear CNS, did you ever confirm about Moses K?  He grew up in the USA, does he still hold a US passport?  Have ALL of the MLAs given up their US citizenship?  By the way, if running for office in another country, you CAN give up yiur US citizenship- what you cannot do is give up your citizenship to avoid taxes.

    CNS: Yes we have confimed about Moses K. No, he does not hold a US passport. Yes, he gave up his citizenship.

    Once again, all Caymanians who were born in the USA or obtained a US passport – If you have had over $10,000 in ANY foreign bank acccount in the past 2012 year, your deadline to file is SUNDAY! 

    God bless America (you like to shop in Miami, now pay your taxes!)

  40. Anonymous says:

    Actually, because of the steps required to renounce U.S. Citizenship it is unlikely that, if ruled disqualified on that basis, Tara would have sufficient time to renounce for a by-election. While Richard has a point in principle I don't think it makes any difference in practise. 

     

  41. Anonymous says:

    Yes, but unless she can pull the study rabbit out of the hat, the US passport issue is irrelevant.