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