SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Anna Nicole Smith may have been just a "B-list celebrity," but she hit the Bahamas like a hurricane, spreading scandals that toppled a string of officials and endangered the whole government, according to newly leaked U.S. diplomatic cables.
The government fell two months after the last cable was written.
"Not since Category 4 Hurricane Betsy made landfall in 1965 has one woman done as much damage in Nassau," reads a colorful November 2006 document, apparently written by Deputy Chief of Mission D. Brent Hardt. It was released by WikiLeaks and published by the British newspaper The Guardian late Tuesday.
"Lying in disarray in her wake are Doctor's Hospital, the Coroner's Court, the Department of Immigration, local mega-lawyers Callenders and Co., formerly popular Minister of Immigration Shane Gibson, and possibly Prime Minister Christie's PLP government," the diplomat added.
The cables, classified as confidential, described how Smith's remarkably rapid success in gaining permanent residency led to the ouster of Gibson while the alleged bungling of her son's treatment and death cut short the careers of several lesser officials while energizing the political opposition and the press.
The last cable was dated March 2007, two months before the Progressive Labor Party lost an election despite a strong local economy. It noted that the opposition Free National Movement "has used these scandals to seize the offensive in the run-up to elections."
The heiress, former Playboy playmate and reality TV star filed for legal residency in the Bahamas on Aug. 11, 2006, according to the cables, and was granted it about a month later, even though the process sometimes takes years and her ownership of a home – the basis for her application – was in dispute.
The cables note that Gibson, who approved the application, was hit by allegations he had received a $10,000 check and a $25,000 watch from Smith, who also allegedly hired his father to work on her yacht and his mother to baby-sit her children.
Officials denied any wrongdoing, the diplomat wrote, and said "glibly that the Ministry of Immigration should not be criticized for 'improved efficiencies in government for which it deserves praise.'"
Gibson finally resigned in February 2007 after a local newspaper published photographs of Gibson embracing Smith in her bed.
The diplomat said that before Smith arrived, Gibson was popular for tough anti-immigrant policies.
"The Anna Nicole scandal has recast Gibson as puppet of the privileged rather than defender of the common people of The Bahamas."
Gibson did not reply to a request for comment.
Several local hospital and coroner's office officials also were removed following allegations of inefficiency or cover-ups in the death of her son Daniel.
Smith herself died in February 2007 at a Florida hotel and is buried in the Bahamas next to her 20-year-old son.
In October 2010, a boyfriend and two doctors accused of enabling Smith's prescription drug use were acquitted of most drug charges. But Howard K. Stern, Smith's boyfriend-lawyer, and Dr. Khristine Eroshevich, her psychiatrist, were convicted of conspiring to get her painkillers and sedatives.