Rowley: Background checks necessary

Prime Min­is­ter Row­ley has said it may be time to make a for­mal back­ground check by the T&T Po­lice Ser­vice’s Spe­cial Branch unit a manda­to­ry part of the vet­ting process for prospec­tive of­fice­hold­ers.

“It has not been part of our sys­tem and it may very well be that the time has come for us to look at that,” Row­ley said yes­ter­day.


He made the com­ment af­ter plans for gov­ern­ment sen­a­tor, Garvin Si­mon­ette, to re­place Mar­lene Mc­Don­ald as Pub­lic Ad­min­is­tra­tion Min­is­ter had to be scrapped.

Min­utes be­fore Si­mon­ette’s swear­ing-in cer­e­mo­ny was sched­uled to be­gin at the Of­fice of the Pres­i­dent on Mon­day, it was can­celled be­cause of “new in­for­ma­tion.” Ear­li­er in the day, a mugshot of Si­mon­ette from a charge for dri­ving un­der the in­flu­ence in Bre­vard Coun­ty, Ok­la­homa in 2014 had be­gun mak­ing the rounds.

The in­ci­dent has al­so prompt­ed the PNM to craft a list of ques­tions for prospec­tive can­di­dates about pos­si­ble blem­ish­es in their le­gal his­to­ry.

Row­ley said cur­rent­ly, the par­ty’s screen­ing process re­lies on per­sons to be truth­ful when asked if there is any­thing that would “dis­qual­i­fy” them from con­sid­er­a­tion for a po­si­tion in pub­lic life.

“For­tu­nate­ly in this sit­u­a­tion (with Si­mon­ette) it ap­peared be­fore the ap­point­ment was made and what did I do, I sim­ply said that ‘well, this is not ac­cept­able and, there­fore, we can’t go for­ward.’” Si­mon­ette al­so re­signed as a sen­a­tor.

“We are learn­ing as we go along,” Row­ley said of the reper­cus­sions the in­ci­dent will have on the PNM’s screen­ing process­es.

Reporter: Faine Richards

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