Darius Dillon: Legislature Lacks Integrity Over Asset Declaration

MONROVIA, Montserrado – After the General Auditing Commission announced that President George Weah had made his long-awaited asset declaration, a leading opposition member has criticized lawmakers for not also declaring their assets.

Darius Dillon, vice chair for political affairs of the opposition Liberty Party, says members of the legislature lack integrity for having refused to declare their assets.

The Code of Conduct requires all public officials involved in making decisions affecting contracting, tendering or procurement to declare their assets prior to taking office.

However, the president and members of his administration had resisted calls from the public to declare their assets and had been under immense pressure to do so since Weah assumed office in January.

On Friday, July 27, George K. Barpeen, chief communications officer at the General Auditing Commission, issued a press statement that said the commission had received the president’s declaration of personal interests, income, assets and liabilities.

The statement said the documents had been submitted on Wednesday, July 25 at 6:05 p.m. It also added that the declarations would be forwarded to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission.

It was not apparent whether other officials had declared their assets, although the GAC called on “cabinet ministers, public officials and employees of government involved in making decisions affecting contracting, tendering or procurement” to declare their assets.

Meanwhile, Dillon has criticized the refusal of lawmakers to declare their assets, as mandated by law. He called the legislature “a polluted body that needs cleaning.”

“There are men and women at the legislature whose actions over the years have no semblance of integrity,” he said.

Dillon has experience on the inner workings of the legislature, having previously served as special assistant to then-senator Jewel Howard-Taylor. He was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment by the House of Representatives for exposing a bribery scandal allegedly orchestrated by former president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and aimed at removing then-speaker Edwin M. Snowe.

But even as Dillon criticized lawmakers for not having declared their assets, members of his own party appear to not have made their declaration. Executive members of Liberty Party could not confirm to The Bush Chicken whether any of their members in the legislature had declared their assets. Moreover, the GAC’s Barpeen said on Saturday, July 28 that he could only confirm that Weah had declared his assets.

James Verdier, the executive chairman of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, had told a local radio earlier this month that the commission had not received record on any lawmakers who were in office prior to the 2017 elections.

“The LACC has experienced serious non-compliance of assets declaration from officials of the executive, legislature, and judiciary,” he said.

Featured photo by Zeze Ballah

Zeze Ballah

Zeze made his journalism debut as a high school reporter at the LAMCO Area School System. In 2016 and 2017, the Press Union of Liberia awarded Zeze with the Photojournalist of the Year award. Zeze was also the union's 2017 Health Reporter of the Year. He is a Health Journalism Fellow with Internews.

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