06/22/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Setting the Record Straight About Antigua

Kevin Powell has opened his campaign for Congress claiming to be an effective agent for change. He presents evidence of his effectiveness as "[m]ost recently, I negotiated the release of six young Brooklynites unfairly detained in Antigua and Barbuda." Like most of his claims of leadership and effectiveness, Mr. Powell's assertion of being a negotiator in this particular instance is pure fantasy.

Mr. Powell was aware of the detention of the six people detained in Antigua from the date of their detention on September 7, 2009. Acting as a "representative" of the families of the detainees, Mr. Powell possessed neither the knowledge nor experience to positively influence any aspect of the criminal proceedings against the Brooklynites.

From September 7 to September 22, 2009, Mr. Powell's ineffective interference cost the diplomatic process critical resolution time and forced the detainees to endure a lengthy and uncompromising criminal trial. It was only after I intervened, with support from Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), that the government of Antigua and Barbuda agreed to release the detainees.

My colleague, Rep. Chaffetz, said, "The release of the six New Yorkers was solely the result of Rep. Towns' negotiations and hard work. Any assertion otherwise is false. Although Rep. Towns and I are from opposite sides of the aisle and often disagree, one area where we always find common ground is the truth. In this case, the truth lies with Rep. Towns, despite Mr. Powell's efforts to rewrite history."

The following timeline of events highlights my successful efforts to win the release of the detainees without the assistance of Kevin Powell in any respect:

September 22, 2009
  • I learn of the detention of the six Brooklynites from a radio report.
  • The parents of two detained siblings contact my District office in Flatlands to report the situation.
  • I begin receiving updates on the detention from Brent Hardt, U.S. Ambassador to the Caribbean.
  • I contact key Antiguan officials and the attorney for the detainees and begin the negotiation process.
September 23, 2009
  • At a Brooklyn, NY, press conference attended by the families of the detainees, Kevin Powell applauds my efforts on the matter after only 24 hours of becoming involved.
  • I continue to negotiate with Antiguan officials.
September 27, 2009
  • I host a brunch at a local Brooklyn restaurant to update the families of the detainees on the progress of the negotiations. Kevin Powell is in attendance but offers no suggestions or other information on how to bring the detainees home. Again, he compliments how I have handled the matter.
September 28 through 30, 2009
  • I continue the negotiation process with important government officials.
October 1, 2009
  • A representative from my office arrives in Antigua and Barbuda. Face to face meetings are arranged with almost every individual who could impact a release of the detainees.
October 2, 2009
  • I arrive in Antigua along with Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT).
  • We meet with Antiguan officials and engage in lengthy negotiations.
  • We meet with the detainees to update them on the state of negotiations.
  • Negotiation concludes.
October 3, 2009
  • The lengthy criminal trial is suspended. Detainees all plead to lesser charges than those originally filed. Sentencing according to the negotiations are set for the following Monday.
  • Kevin Powell arrives in Antigua in the evening hours, after the concluding plea deals.
October 5, 2009
  • Kevin Powell attempts to offer character evidence at the sentencing phase.
  • Mr. Powell proffers inaccurate testimony regarding his academic background while under examination by the sentencing judge. When asked about his academic qualifications, Powell testified under oath that he received a Bachelors' Degree from Rutgers University in 1988, majoring in Political Science with a minor in English. While Powell did attend Rutgers from 1984 to 1989, there is no record of his graduation from that institution, and therefore no record of the academic degree he now claims to have earned.
  • All detainees are sentenced to pay fines.
  • Kevin Powell returns to the United States immediately after the court proceeding.
  • Detainees' fines are paid, and they are freed to return to the United States.

Under the circumstances presented by the Antigua detainees, it is not debatable that Mr. Powell's interference did more harm than good. His assertion that he negotiated the release of the detainees is fabricated and represents a serious character flaw for someone who aspires to high representative office in the Nation's Capital. For Mr. Powell to falsify his academic accomplishments, under oath, to gain favor in the eyes of a presiding judge and then to follow that by a claim of exclusive credit for the release of the six detainees, illustrates that deception and dishonesty are easy resorts for Mr. Powell if he believes that it will advance his cause.

Mr. Powell is unsuitable for public office now, and unless he undergoes drastic character improvement, will continue to be unsuitable for public office in the future.