By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—Exotic locations, pirates on the high-seas, and a run for the US Senate sounds like an adventure novel, but a closer look at Senate candidate Jonathon McConnell’s business interests, raises questions about foreign registries and campaign disclosures.
McConnell has failed to meet required federal election deadlines, and left out key information on campaign reports, all which he dismisses as, “clerical errors.”
McConnell is the sole owner of Meridian Global Consulting, LLC, an Alabama-based LLC, maritime security provider, established in 2009, according to filings with the Secretary of State. He has also listed the company on his US Senate financial disclosure stating, it is an Alabama company and he is sole owner.
As a Senate candidate, McConnell is required to list every company of which he an owner, partner, or has other financial interests. McConnell only listed one company, but he is registered as owning or holding a position in companies in several foreign countries, which he has not disclosed on his FEC filings.
Strict Federal financial disclosure laws were enacted in 1978, to safeguard against government misconduct in the wake of the Watergate scandals. These ethics laws were established to give the public assurance, that government officials were reporting all their financial interests openly and honestly.
Inquiries were directed to the McConnell campaign after it was discovered that Meridian Global Consulting, LTD, formed in 2011, is a registered business interest in the Cayman Islands owned by McConnell. McConnell’s campaign confirmed that he is the owner of the Cayman registered LTD but say there is nothing nefarious about the registration.
The abbreviation LTD stands for “limited company.” The name is attached to businesses operating in the United Kingdom and many of its Commonwealth countries. The designation’s regulations vary between countries, but in the United Kingdom, an LTD refers to a privately held limited company, much like a limited liability company, or LLC,” in the United States, according to the business site Chron.
During Mitt Romney’s failed presidential bid, the shadowy world of offshore finance, with loopholes that allow individual and business to skirt tax laws, became a problem for the 2008 Republican nominee.
McConnell spokesperson, Elizabeth BeShears, says his company’s registry in the Caymans is very different than Romney’s. According to BeShears, registering in a foreign country is just part of doing business as a global security company. She said, that in order to provide security for sea-going vessels flying under a different nation’s flag, in some cases, that business is required to establish a business entity in that country. She also said that all money coming to McConnell’s company is handled by his Mobile office, and it pays proper federal taxes.
BeShears said McConnell has business registries in other foreign nations beyond the Caymans, including businesses established in Singapore, Malta, Marshall Islands, and Panama. She was not sure if this was all the countries.
She said that McConnell’s company did a substantial amount of work in the nation of Singapore. McConnell’s Senate financial disclosure only lists receiving income from one foreign business, which is Sea Nemesis Security (SNS) in Nicosia, Cyprus.
Senate candidates are required by law to disclose all companies from which they have received income over the last two years. McConnell has listed some 17 entities.
McConnell’s maritime security company, according to its website, provides “professional, scalable, cost-effective solutions to our client’s security needs. We strive to find a solution that matches the level of risk to proportional protection, giving the client the most efficient and sustainable security solution anywhere in the world.”
It also states, “It is the policy of Meridian Global Consulting to conduct its business at all times throughout the world with honesty and integrity.”
McConnell’s campaign website says he is, “A Christian, a conservative businessman, and a Captain in the Marines, who is running for the United States Senate, because it is time to put an end to the self-dealing ways of Washington politicians.”
With Alabamians fearful of dangers at home and abroad, McConnell’s failure to fully comply with required disclosures, dismissing them as a simple clerical error, along with these unreported companies raises serious questions.