Under question: The relationship between Premier Craig Cannonier and businessman Nathan Landow is investigated in Ayo Johnson’s report. *File photo
Under question: The relationship between Premier Craig Cannonier and businessman Nathan Landow is investigated in Ayo Johnson’s report. *File photo

Ayo Johnson is expected to publish his in-depth look at Premier Craig Cannonier’s first year in office today.

The Bermuda Sun received some excerpts — but not the full copy — from the report by Think Media. It questions whether the Premier knew Nathan Landow before he said he did, while a source said the leader made “misstatements”. 

According to the report,  there were a number of “inconsistencies and contradictions, which throw into question the Premier’s version of events” surrounding a plane trip he, along with Attorney General Mark Pettingill and Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell, took. 

The Gulfstream 200 they flew on was owned by Nathan Landow, a casino developer, who was interested in developing a resort property in Bermuda.

According to the report: “Cannonier has said his first contact with Landow was shortly before the Jetgate trip when the developer contacted him to request a meeting, but that has been contradicted by Washington insiders who told us that the Premier had been introduced to Landow before the 2012 general election.”

An unnamed source is quoted as saying: “I think  Craig has made some misstatements as it relates to his knowing and involvement with Nate Landow.” 

The Premier told the Sun he had no response at this time. 


Carla Zuill spoke to Ayo Johnson about his website launch on her 'Straight Talk' show:



Report ‘thorough and credible’

Glenn Jones

I am one of three to have an advanced read of Ayo Johnson’s thorough and careful reporting on significant happenings under the leadership of Premier Craig Cannonier during his first year-and-a-half in office.  

The report I have seen is credible, meeting very high international journalistic standards. It will publish soon. As a former journalist, I told Ayo he should be congratulated for his work.

I make that declaration because nine weeks ago Ayo sought my help.  

He wanted someone impartial and unconnected to his reporting to pull it apart and offer an unvarnished critique to reinforce the integrity and standards of what he’d written.

I thought about it hard and ultimately agreed to his request. Let me explain why I said yes.

Our country’s stressed economy requires bold and aggressive leadership to get back on track. 

Our political leaders are expected to think big then negotiate in the country’s best interest as transparently as possible, but largely behind closed doors. One of the most reliable checks to keep things in balance — and to keep politicians honest — is a strong press.

Unfortunately, though, our country’s press is weak. Not from a lack of talent or a lack of will, but a lack of resources.  

It took Ayo the better part of six months to prepare his 4,300-word report and make it fit for public consumption — anonymous sources and fact checking, lawyers and rewrites. It was a long process.

As our fourth estate struggles financially to get the news out amid economic down arrows, the idea of dedicating one reporter to one story for six months is a reality so far from reach I can’t even find the words. 

Independently, though, Ayo Johnson was able to do it.

In my position as overseer of MediaHouse subsidiary Bermuda Sun, I might be inclined to view Ayo as a competitor, an enemy.

But if he’s really about holding the powerful accountable, maintaining journalistic standards and providing the kind of check and balance every democracy needs — Ayo is really more of a friend than a foe.

When I agreed to edit Ayo’s reporting, my only condition was that he acquiesce to my interpretation of journalistic standards even when we disagreed. If he didn’t I would walk away.

I haven’t walked away.  Ayo made many adjustments at my request and revisited many sources.  He also tolerated tough questions from me about his own motivations. He passed every litmus test I put before him.

Ultimately, Ayo’s reporting fills a void regrettably absent from local media too often — thorough, credible, investigative reporting that is also of the highest quality for journalistic standards. It’s a sight for sore eyes. And here’s the best part: you don’t have to take my word for it. Make your own judgment.

A small excerpt of Ayo’s reporting is below. The rest you will find here: http://politica.think.bm.

Glenn Jones is an Emmy Award-winning journalist and general manager of MediaHouse, Bermuda Sun’s parent company. He served as press secretary to former Premier Ewart Brown from 2007-2009.


 

Selling Bermuda 

(excerpts)

Bermuda’s new One Bermuda Alliance Government and its political neophyte leader Craig Cannonier are facing their most serious credibility crisis to date over handling of a casino developer’s interest in a country where casino gambling is not legal.

Cannonier, who assumed the Bermuda Premiership when his party won the Government in December, 2012, has rejected allegations of wrongdoing in a saga with as much drama as a best-selling political novel.  

The story involves Nathan Landow, a Maryland-based casino developer with reported links to organized crime, a political flip flop on a promised referendum on the legalization of casino gaming and the country’s desperate need to attract external investment and revive its ailing tourism industry.

On March 20, 2013, Cannonier, Mark Pettingill, the country’s Attorney General and Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell, boarded Landow’s eight-seat Gulfstream 200 and headed to Washington, D.C. to meet with the developer and his associates.

A political storm ensued when news of the trip — dubbed “Jetgate” by the Opposition Progressive Labour Party — leaked to the media two months later, and Cannonier was forced to give a personal explanation to Parliament. 

 

 

Our own inquiries into the matter, and subsequent developments, have turned up a series of inconsistencies and contradictions, which throw into question the Premier’s version of events.

This report is based on several conversations with key players, including Landow, and a number of sources who insisted on anonymity.

Our sources cited risks to their livelihoods, if named in this story, as a reason for requesting anonymity.

Cannonier has said his first contact with Landow was shortly before the Jetgate trip when the developer contacted him to request a meeting, but that has been contradicted by Washington insiders who told us that the Premier had been introduced to Landow before the 2012 general election.

 

 

•  Landow, who would later claim that he does not monitor developments on the island and was not aware of any controversy over gaming in Bermuda, told us that aborting the referendum is “probably a good decision”.

“I think that’s a plus for the Island. I think there’s probably a general consensus that Bermuda needs something like that in conjunction with further development. It’s probably a good decision.” 

 

 

•  Landow continually downplayed his interest in Bermuda in our conversations — on March 26, just six days before the deadline to respond to Government’s RFP for the Club Med property — he told us he had not decided on whether he would send in a proposal. 

But [our source] was insistent that he [Landow] was keen to invest and had his eyes on the former Club Med site.

This was partly corroborated by another, reluctant, source with knowledge of the links between Landow and Cannonier who insisted on not being named in this story because of perceived reputational risks if named in any story about “allegations of corruption”.

“I think that Craig has made some mis-statements as it relates to his knowing and involvement with Nate Landow. For some reason he did that, which was dumb because Nate Landow is the type of person who would want to do business with Bermuda — and that’s a big deal.” 


Read more:  Ayo Johnson - ‘A man who is always forthright’