MONROVIA – In what is being described as a complete detour from the torrent of commendations that have so far greeted US Ambassador Michael McCarthy’s press statement in which he highlighted the Government of Liberia’s callous disregard for the interest of the citizenry, especially rural dwellers, Montserrado County District #4 Representative Rustonlyn Suacoco Dennis in a statement posted April 26, 2023 on social media said Ambassador McCarthy’s April 24, 2023 press statement was ill-conceived and misleading, to the extent that it left not only the citizens themselves confused, but destroyed the confidence of those lawmakers who continue to decry corruption and other malpractices within the legislature.
“Before you came to Liberia, we advocated strongly, especially the like-minded lawmakers. Your blanket statement did not only hurt or weaken us, it was intended to frustrate our efforts and destroy our public images in the eyes of our constituents with all the sacrifices,” Representative Dennis said of Ambassador McCarthy’s statement which she felt was a blind, sentimental attack on the entire legislature, especially when there are others in the Legislature who remain untainted by the stench of corruption.
“In your recent statement you addressed multiple issues of bad governance and malpractices in certain sectors in those counties. I am elated that you visited some of the hard-to- reach areas in Liberia and thanks for the face-to-face interactions with our people and the practical experience.
“Mr. Ambassador, whilst I agree with you on some issues raised in your statement that has to do with lack of accountability, misappropriations of public funds, donor funds, bad governance and other acts that undermines our development as a nation, I feel frustrated by those revelations and you are conspicuously frustrated as well and any conscious-minded person would feel frustrated.
“However, I am of the opinion that the frustration took complete control of you to the extent you tried to correct the wrong or bad by deliberately mixing the bad fruits with the good fruits and presenting it to us as a lemonade.
“Imagine how excruciating and painful it is for you to have a blanketed statement over the entire legislature. Your judgment is not only unfair but highly misleading in some areas. You have confused the citizens more than alerting them.
“To have mentioned that lack of alarm being raised indicates a syndicate involving players at the legislature. To have even mentioned that 30 senators and 73 lawmakers spent 65m feathering their own nests proves the agony and bitterness really took hold of you.
“Let me state unequivocally herein, our budget we passed is never 65m, next the 40m+ that is passed is not for 30 Senators and 73 Representatives, rather it’s for the over four thousand workers in central administration and all the legislative staffers for each member.
“Also, monies received legally for operations can’t be cruelty when your very country has monies allotted to congressmen and congresswomen for operations, except in your country your citizens want policies and laws and in our country the citizens want legislative impact projects. Your failure to analyze those legislative engagements funds, four thousand plus central administration staff as well as individual members staffers led to your blanket categorization of the legislature.
“Don’t get it twisted there are totally bad and corrupt people in the legislature and equally so there are members who do not support corruption, misappropriation of public funds and poor implementation of legislative allotments. The legislature is a democratic institution, not every budget that is passed meets the approval of all members and by that you should know that there are gallant men and women therein.
“Before you came to Liberia, we advocated strongly, especially the like-minded lawmakers. Your blanket statement did not only hurt or weaken us, it was intended to frustrate our efforts and destroy our public images in the eyes of our constituents with all the sacrifices.
“Even in the Western Bible there was the blood of lamb on the door post to separate the good people from the bad prop before the pestilence could manifest in the darkness- when I see the blood, I will pass over you.
“In your case however, you have destroyed those who raised these alarms in the legislature, decried corruption and malpractices and looked up to you for help when those alarms were raised. I am still processing this rancor and outburst,” Representative Dennis stated.
Public’s Angry Reaction
In the wake of the statement from the Montserrado County District #4 Representative lambasting Ambassador McCarthy for holding government’s feet to the fire, especially lawmakers who continue to apportion huge salaries and benefit to themselves at the detriment of the citizens, there has been an avalanche of rancorous response from the public, generally terming Madam Dennis as being insensitive to the plight of the suffering people.
“Madam, his statement is in no way misleading. He spoke the facts and those facts are engraved in walls of the legislature; all well-meaning Liberian have seen it and continue to experience it prior to his press release. I believe he (US Ambassador) has opened a platform of ‘if the hat fits you, then wear it’” an angry poster commented under the lawmaker’s statement.
Another poster lamented, saying: “Sad of you wanting to transfer these realities and blame your colleagues. Liberians are informed of the very issues raised by the ambassador, trying to separate oneself from these as a lawmaker is a grave corruption, and I’m certain that Liberians will not accept any misinformation from you. To say Liberians don’t know what they want and/or expect of a lawmaker, is also a direct insult and the main reason why you all do what you do. Your perceived analysis is wrong and validates the reasons why you shouldn’t be re-elected. You have done absolutely nothing good in parliament that warrants you the opportunity to insult our people in such a manner.”
“Honorable, did they force you to respond? What the majority does affects the rest. What’s the blabbering about? When the ambassador was always critiquing the Executive, it was fine with you. Today you guys (Legislature) were also placed in the same category and you want to flex your finger muscle to get sympathy from the voters,” another irate citizen stated.
Perhaps the height of the citizens’ frustration over Representative Dennis’ statement was summed up in the post of a former staff member who worked in her office.
“My former friend and boss agreed with the Ambassador on issues of corruption, misappropriation of public funds against the government, but disagreed with the Ambassador when it came to corruption in the Legislature. These are the corruptions the Ambassador is referring to:
“When 16 staffers are entitled to their salaries, it is shared with 50 internal staffers and family members. When you suspended staffers in your office without pay and later requested that those salaries be transferred to a former staffer account. You are in error to respond to the Ambassador in such a manner. I advised you before but you do not seek advice before going public,” stated Representative Dennis’ ex-personnel.