Six months into his new administration, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley has fired his Housing and Urban Development Minister Marlene McDonald following reports that she hired her common-law husband and his brother at her constituency office, in breach of Parliament rules.
He announced in a statement last night that McDonald has been replaced by Randall Mitchell who was previously Public Administration Minister. That responsibility has been passed on to Communication Minister Maxie Cuffie.
The Cabinet changes also include the assignment of the portfolio of Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister to Stuart Young – an addition to his responsibilities as Minister in the Ministry of the Attorney General.
McDonald was sacked a day after the Trinidad Express newspaper published a story in which head of pressure group Fixin T&T, Kirk Waithe, said he had information from Parliament which showed that her common-law husband, Michael Carew, and his brother, Lennox Carew, were employed at her Port-of- Spain South constituency office for five and four years respectively.
Parliament rules restrict parliamentarians from employing their relatives, including spouses and cohabitants, in their constituency offices.
Prior to the revelation about the constituency hirings, there had been calls from the Opposition for her to be fired over several allegations, including that she misused her ministerial power, back in 2008 under a previous People’s National Movement (PNM) administration, to get a Housing Development Corporation house for her Carew.
She had also been under investigation by the Integrity Commission regarding a TT$375,000 (US$57,208) cheque made out to Calabar Foundation, of which the Carew brothers are directors, in May 2010.