One Bermuda Alliance leader Craig Cannonier dramatically resigned as Premier Monday night.
Mr Cannonier said in a statement: “Nothing illegal was done, but I accept there was a failure over time to be completely transparent. This is a fundamental component of good governance and a core principle upon which the One Bermuda Alliance was founded.”
Governor George Fergusson said: “The Premier, the Hon. L. Craig Cannonier, JP, MP, called on me this evening and tendered his resignation as Premier, which I have accepted. I have asked the Deputy Premier, the Hon. Michael H. Dunkley, JP, MP, to carry out the role of Acting Premier on an interim basis.”
A little earlier Acting Premier Michael Dunkley confirmed that had taken the reins of Government.
He described the moment as ‘bittersweet’ before joining Cabinet and party with colleagues inside Cabinet Office. He also added that the cabinet and the Senate will remain the same.
As well as the media a handful of police officers are also currently outside Cabinet.
Everyone is waiting for Mr Cannonier to explain his decision to step down.
It comes after two days of OBA meetings at their headquarters and days of intense speculation over Premier Cannonier’s leadership of the country after a string of new revelations surrounding the JetGate saga and his dealings with US businessman Nathan Landow.
The news emerged this evening as the Cabinet building became a hub of activity. Police officers looked on as OBA MPs descended upon the Cabinet office. The doors were locked and only unlocked for officials entering the building.
The resignation comes after the Bermuda Sun revealed on Friday that American Nathan Landow admitted that he, along with a group of half-a-dozen real estate developers, builders and entrepreneurs from the greater Washington D.C. area, gave about $300,000 in total to help the OBA’s election campaign in the run-up to the 2012 election. Mr Landow told us there were seven political donors who contributed in the range of $40,000 to $50,000 each. He did not identify the other
Mr Landow said the political contributions were made after an OBA political consultant solicited him for the donations through a Maryland-based lobbyist. After that solicitation, Mr Cannonier flew to the US to meet with Mr Landow and made a pro-jobs, pro-investment pitch, Mr Landow told us.
The money was not wired directly to the OBA campaign, he said. It was wired to a group called the Bermuda Political Action Club. It’s unclear who is behind that organization or how the money was spent.
“We were told that it was campaign contributions and it was what you might say an underground campaign for getting out the vote, getting people to the polls,” Mr Landow said. “… We had absolutely no knowledge of anything or where the money was going to go other than it was campaign contributions and this was some sort of underground campaign.”
Last Monday, OBA Chairman Thad Hollis announced his party never received any political contributions from Mr Landow. He said the party would launch an internal investigation into the matter.
Friday night ZBM news reported that the Bermuda Political Action Club had an account at Butterfield Bank and named two signatories –an OBA consultant a business associate of Craig Cannonier’s.
Additional reporting by Bermuda Sun’s Danny McDonald, Don Burgess