Online fundraiser to save challengers from bankruptcy

| 22/02/2016 | 49 Comments
Cayman News Service

Velma Powery-Hewitt

(CNS): A West Bay couple who have been ordered by the court to pay the education minister $140,000 to cover her costs to defend a challenge to her election have turned to an online funding platform to try and raise the cash and avoid destitution. John Hewitt, the husband of Velma Powery-Hewitt, an unsuccessful West Bay candidate in the May 2013 general elections, challenged Tara Rivers’ right to stand for office on the grounds that she had a US passport and was not resident in Cayman for seven years before the election, as required by the constitution.

Hewitt lost the challenge but Chief Justice Anthony Smellie, who heard the case, recommended that both parties take care of their own costs because of the importance of the questions raised by the challenge and a precedent-setting ruling that has paved the way for Caymanians with dual citizenship, as well as Caymanians studying or involved in any kind of professional development overseas in the seven years before a national ballot, to run for office.

Given that the constitution had been interpreted very differently before Hewitt’s challenge, concerns have been raised that the hefty legal bill from Rivers will deter voters from challenging candidates who may not qualify or have broken the elections law.

With no means of paying such a huge bill, friends of the Hewitts have created an online fundraising appeal, hoping to reach the $140k target before the anticipated bankruptcy hearing for the couple in April, when the court will seize all of their assets to recover as much of the outstanding sum as possible.

The Hewitts and their supporters believe that the motivation for bankrupting the couple, who are Rivers’ constituents, is to punish them. Velma Hewitt, a retired civil servant on a fixed income who served for over 33 years, and her husband, who is also retired, could lose their house as a result of the bankruptcy and end up homeless.

On the fundraising website, friends who have created the appeal said that Hewitt made a genuine constitutionally protected challenge but they are now facing bankruptcy for exercising that right. Urging people to help, they said, “We are called to assist to right this grave injustice, as it will impact the actions surrounding future electoral questions in this country, and this was specifically pointed out by the Chief Justice. It is in the best interest of our country to ensure that justice, freedom of rights and liberty are never compromised.”

According to the site, at 11am Monday just $25 had been donated towards the $140,000 target.

Visit the Hewitts’ fundraising appeal

Tags:

Category: Elections, Politics

Comments (49)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    My hans is clean.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Can they now bankrupt Jeff and Conover assetts. Or let them party on in Atlanta?

  3. Anonymous says:

    To me this is one more example of the Crab in a bucket theory, Let ‘s tear down our fellow citizen, so they can just retaliate! Or should we call it Caymanians in a Bucket! Don’t you all ever get tired of attempting to tear others down!
    Love they neighbor people.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Interesting that her chief running mate is so silent. Can’t give her a little he’p?

  5. Anonymous says:

    The article above says:

    “Hewitt lost the challenge but Chief Justice Anthony Smellie, who heard the case, recommended that both parties take care of their own costs because of the importance of the questions raised by the challenge and a precedent-setting ruling that has paved the way for Caymanians with dual citizenship, as well as Caymanians studying or involved in any kind of professional development overseas in the seven years before a national ballot, to run for office.”

    If the Justice Smellie recommended they pay their own costs, then how comes there is a court order to pay Tara’s costs? Was there another legal action?

  6. Anonymous says:

    just another day in wonderland where nothing makes sense……zzzzzzzzzzzzz

  7. Soldier Crab says:

    I suppose the greater good won through; anything was better than a McKeeva syncophant.
    However I do believe Anthony Smellie got it wrong and if there was a way to have this decided by the House of Lords it would be more acceptable.
    Does the UK allow holders of other non-Commonwealth nationalities to stand for election? There, I think, lies the determining criterion.

    • Jotnar says:

      Whilst you have to be either a British national or a qualifying Commonwealth citizen to stand for election, there is nothing to prohibit dual nationals from standing. Witness Boris Johnston MP, famously giving up his US citizenship acquired by birth, as per Tara, even though it was not a barrier to his being elected as an MP or being appointed as Prime Minister. And of course there is nothing in the UK that require candidates to have been resident in the country for x number of years first, or have second generation ancestry.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I’m no UDP Supporter, but [1] Tara troubles came when she was Age 18, not rescinding her U.S. Citizenship, and seeking (paid) international work experience without declaring her taxes to the IRS. [2] As for Mrs. Powery-Hewitt, her Attorney should have been familiar with the Constitution, know the Election Laws, and properly advised her of the potential outcome(s). Also it may be best to solicit the help of those the for the legal suit on Ms. Rivers. [3] As for the Attorney General (AG), SHAME ON YOU, for not clearly outlining the Laws of the Land, where this matter was concerned. [4] Given the number of Caymanian-Americans that declared their candidacy for the 2013 Elections, Tara Rivers was the only applicant who was encouraged, implicitly or explicitly, to pursue the her candidacy in (the District of) West Bay (WB) without being disqualified. And, [5] Shame on you Justice Smellie, for not pointing out that the AG failed to [appropriately] advise people in a similar dilemma as Ms. River’s of their rights under the Constitution and Elections Laws, to better handle this matter prior to Ms. River’s running a lengthy campaign and becoming (the 4th WB member) elected to public service.

    In ths case, it appears to be number of “Ole Soles” to be sued for either deception or their ineptness.

    • Anonymous says:

      Excellent points at 6:43 22/2/16 Agree with all points. Maybe UDP Blind followers need to question their party’s choices, they also gave Jamaican AG bulgin status maybe should have kept system used for British AGs, and allow option to end contracts now we appear to be stuck with same AG regardless of any questionable actions in legal and he’s advisor to ALL Cabinets every four years AND works with FCO. Let that power sink in….

  9. Scooby-Doo says:

    They would have gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for those meddling kids!

  10. Anonymous says:

    I sincerely pray that Velma and her husband husband have learned very well to stay clear of certain abominable influences in West Bay.

  11. illuises says:

    Let me understand this. Person (A) needs clarity on a portion of the law as it pertains to eligibility of a Caymanian with US Citizenship to run for office who was also out of the island for (7) years for studies. Considering (4) other Caymanians were denied acceptance to run because according to the administrators they had to give up their US citizenship in order to run as a result one member denounce is citizenship and the other (3) pulled out from the race.

    Now through Person (A) raising a well needed clarification to a portion of the law that may I dare to say 99% of Caymanians didn’t know or fully understood that you could be eligible if you had citizenship elsewhere. Now Person (A) through their enquiry has now paved the road for many future Caymanians who may desire a career in Politics can now freely travel for studies exercise their options for having dual citizenship and still be eligible to be called Caymanian has to now pay a fine of $140,000.00.

    Senior Citizens Age 60 at least and persons with ice boxes where their heart should be is applauding and congratulating the courts and a Minister representing Cayman and Caymanians for dropping a bomb in the boats of a Grand father and Grand Mother in Caymanian waters. What happen to Patriotism? What happen to Caymankind? I dare you to think and look through a different pair of glasses.

    • Anonymous says:

      The law and court rules apply to everyone. Wasn’t she a bailiff? Surely she understand the concept of court costs?

    • Anonymous says:

      And if Person (A) were an effected WB voter who wasn’t running as a candidate, and in fact the very candidate who would have potentially been elected had Tara been found ineligible, your argument might hold more water. Yes, it was seeking clarification of the constitution, but most definitely not altruistically. There were ample opportunities to question her eligibility prior to the outcome of the election, at which point the onus would have been on Tara to sue the elections office to prove otherwise. As it was, as a supposedly injured party (by not winning a seat), Mrs. Powery-Hewitt took her claim to court and lost. The motivation wasn’t constitutional clarification, it was not being elected. Note that no other losing candidates or WB voters brought the case forward.
      Lastly, while many may disagree with the ruling, tough luck. Legal absurdity happens all the time, but at the end of the day accepting the ruling as final is part of the glue that holds modern society together. Al Gore most certainly disagreed with the US Supreme Court’s ruling (and even their overreach in hearing the case) regarding whether to hold an additional recount in Florida, but like Mrs. Powery-Hewitt, he wasn’t suing for the good of the people, but rather the good of himself. Unlike here though, I would imagine his political party picked up the legal tab, whereas the UDP has clearly abandoned her. I hope that future candidates considering joining the UDP see that support is clearly only given to winners and have a long hard thought about whether they really want to join a party that self-serving.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Save your money, let them go bankrupt and they will claim social services…

  13. Anonymous says:

    I don’t mind contributing a few dollars for good honest charitable causes, but this is borderline begging isn’t it?

    • Anonymous says:

      No, the Attorney General and the Elections Office got it wrong with the four prospective candidates, according to the Chief Justice.

      So, to get it cleaned up once and for all, an 80 year old man has to go bankruptfor the good of the country?

      Who’s next? A primary school kid will be found to bully?

  14. Jotnar says:

    How come the funding page seems to have been established in Atlanta (see top left of page)? Are there a lot of wealthy Caymanians living there that may want to fund the Hewitts? Or does their sponsor have an IP address there?

  15. Anonymous says:

    Maybe after John sells the Silver Mercedes Benz more people will assist. Just sayin’…

  16. Anonymous says:

    Time to come out of retirement and start paying what they owe…

  17. Anonymous says:

    This is madness – a spectacular political stunt and manipulation of the press.

    My bet – The Hewitt’s don’t go bankrupt but will continue to vilify Miss Tara at every chance they get. This is a political game to try and shame and embarrass Tara Rivers for attempting to collect a debt she is lawfully owed with the hopes she won’t win another election.

    Please do not be fooled by this “poor little old man and woman” routine. This is a shameless piece of theater.

  18. Rob says:

    The Hewitt’s ultimate goal was to usurp Tara’s elected position, not for a clarification of the law.

    What do they want Tara to say now? ‘You challenged me and lost, but it’s okay I’ll pay the $140,000 that I incurred defending myself.’ She may be nice, but she’s not stupid.

    They better ask McKeeva for help since they ran on his ticket. Take it out the annual fridge and stove budget.

    Tara is not at fault and the fees are not her’s to pay. That’s all I’m saying.

  19. Anonymous says:

    So, she has to pay US$138,666.79 but requested 150 000 on their website… how many Apples do I have left on this hand Bobby???

    • Anonymous says:

      Gofundme charges fees upwards of 6%…..

      • Anonymous says:

        That make it worst!!! Bobby, let’s do some math here. 6% of those 150 000 is 8320 that will be kept by people outside Cayman Islands (talking about running for politics, contesting another candidate and giving money to another country? see the irony here?) Not done yet, that leaves 3013 dollars for…. Personal consumption? This is how uniformed the Hewitt’s are.

        Charities raise money every day here in Cayman and no one goes to another country to pay hefty fees for it, as a matter of fact http://www.CaymanGiftCertificates.com, which is Caymanian owned and operated, even pays the banking fees for you!!! Do you understand my concern now?

        You are facing the consequences of your acts, you went unprepared to a battle that you did not choose wisely, outgunned, and outnumbered. And while licking your wounds you offend the Caymanian people that could help you asking for the whole sum of money, and then some, enough to give away to an outsider company.

        I find no comfort seeing you going thru this, I’m just glad that you were not elected and embarrassed that you are scamming your fellow Caymanians.

    • Anonymous says:

      That was just Canover doodling on a spreadsheet that changed the number.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I have no sympathy. You sued someone and someone had to pay a significant amount to defend themselves. And you lost. You should have thought about that possible outcome and weighed the risk before you caused the defendant and courts to incur costs.

    In the end, the people knew of Tara’s background and history, and the people chose Tara over you.

    • Caymanian says:

      The simpler solution would have to have filed something with the elections office prior to the elections and abide by their ruling after. Done and done.

      You file a suit after you pay the piper his due.

    • mel says:

      AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Make your bed…………………….

  21. Anonymous says:

    what a circus of ignorance.

  22. Diogenes says:

    Let me guess – the funders remain anonymous?

  23. Anonymous says:

    No doubt all the former UDP members will be making significant contributions??

    • SSM345 says:

      Elio and Mac leading the way of course, I wonder if the Hewitts contributed to his defense?

      • The Spook says:

        Party politics raises its fuguly head again. UDP should be helping her pay this. From start to finish this whole episode has been a mess of lies, cover ups and special favors. The precedent setting decision will not help politics or the running of the country now or ever.

  24. Dogs, fleas, and the beds in which they lay. says:

    The dichotomy of this situation is that, I believe, there is still and shall remain a question in the minds of many regarding Miss Rivers eligibility to stand for elected office, especially considering those of similar situations who were forced to bow out and the laughable interpretation of working in a London law office as “training” and not gainful employment. On the other side of the equation there is the Hewitts who chose to stand with and for the wholly disreputable UDP and it’s leader, his character, and the lack thereof for myriad and seemingly untouchably protected and unprosecuted reasons. As such, regardless of the veracity of the eligibility and/or lack thereof for Miss Rivers to hold elected office, there should not be one iota of sympathy for the Hewitts as they have chosen to hitch their wagon to what can only described as a complete hinderance to the well being of the Cayman Islands in it’s entirety. As usual, the only ones who come out on top are the lawyers and it is this which bodes negative implications for the future of the Cayman Islands. The fact that “dog is eating the supper” in the Hewitt’s situation is negated by their association with the same said individual who has been so very fond of the phrase.

    • Caymanian says:

      Am I allowed to applaud a comment? Cause this one really needs one.

      I would say this tho. It all depends on points of view. You can do an on the job training of which experience in a global market could be considered because it broadens the employees skillset. That not withstanding I don’t really think that was what the drafters of the laws had in mind.

      Now I believe what she has accomplished, Tara that is, is to draw a really really thin line between eligibility and non eligibility that not even Einstein could have offered an equation for BUT there we have it, someone else can discover new ways to beat the system also.

      In truth it upset the applecart that was the last elections because if the same playing field was allowed to all we could well have had a different outcome in the elections but to what significance I do not know.

      But I do so like your response.

  25. JTB says:

    Cry me a river.

    The Hewitts were not engaged in some altruistic attempt to clarify the constitution, they were trying to win a fight. Well they lost, and as every fool knows, in our courts the loser pays.

    If they can get their supporters to help them cover the bill, well and good, but don’t try and argue that they are anything other than the authors of their own misfortune

  26. Anonymous says:

    I don’t understand. If the judge ordered both parties to pay their own expenses, which court ordered Ms. Powery to pay Rivers’ fees?

    • Anonymous says:

      Sadly you have no understanding of the legal system. Loser is responsible for costs – which represents a PORTION of what the winning party pays. It’s very customary in civil suits and happens ALL the time. Nothing unique here. Read this to educate yourself further: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Costs_in_English_law

      I’m of the opinion her party – the UDP – encouraged them to do this – I don’t see them donating in any way. What gives?

    • JTB says:

      The Judge ordered the Hewitts to pay Rivers’ costs, but he did make some comments about the usefulness of the appeal for clarifying the issue.

  27. Anonymous says:

    I would rather contribute to them once they go bankrupt to make sure that our American friend is left out of pocket. Doesn’t Cayman have a homestead rule like some US states so that the home cannot be touched? If not, one idea might be to relocate to England declare bankruptcy there and be discharged in a year. In the interim they could go on a round the world holiday, I’d chip for that, send postcards to Tara from everywhere and come back debt free. I had a friend who did that with his much younger new squeeze and used Facebook to drive the ex crazy. It was hilarious.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Only $139, 975 to go!

  29. Anonymous says:

    This was an attempt to ignore the will of the voters for their own personal gain.

    • Caymanian says:

      NO. It was an attempt to keep someone else in power by creating another seat warmer. We all know that if elected she would be another glorified Yes woman to anything the party wanted without any signs of brainpower on her part.

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