Minister caught up in Anna Nicole scandal

Photographs of Anna Nicole Smith in bed embracing the Bahamian immigration minister who approved her application for permanent residency have revived a political scandal in the islands, with one politician calling for the minister’s resignation.

Photographs of Anna Nicole Smith in bed embracing the Bahamian immigration minister who approved her application for permanent residency have revived a political scandal in the islands, with one politician calling for the minister’s resignation.

Also yesterday, the son-in-law of the American developer embroiled in an ownership dispute over the Nassau mansion where Smith was living said he found methadone in her bedroom refrigerator when he went to secure the estate following her death in Florida last week.

A private pathologist has said methadone contributed to the death of Smith’s 20-year-old son Daniel in the Bahamas in September. Daniel Smith died while visiting his mother and newborn half-sister in a Bahamas hospital and an inquest into his death in the Bahamas is planned.

Two photographs published on the front page of The Tribune of Nassau yesterday showed Smith and Immigration Minister Shane Gibson, both fully clothed, embracing on a bed decorated with pink flowers and a white ribbon. In one of the photos, they look into each other’s eyes, their faces only inches apart.

Gibson, an elected member of Parliament from the ruling Progressive Liberal Party, has already been accused of showing Smith preferential treatment by fast-tracking her residency application last year. With general elections due this spring, many said the photographs, taken in Smith’s bedroom, could damage the ruling party.

Cassius Stuart, leader of the Bahamas Democratic Movement, said Gibson has “shamed” the Bahamas and called for him to resign.

“He should do the right thing and step down,” he told reporters outside Smith’s Nassau residence. The BDM is a small opposition party with no seats in parliament.

Opposition leader Hubert Ingraham called for a police investigation of Gibson’s role in the granting of residency to Smith.

Gibson did not return calls seeking comment, but government spokesman Al Dillette dismissed any suggestion of impropriety.

“Minister Gibson is a friend of Anna Nicole, and that’s all a matter of public record,” he said.

John Marquis, managing editor of The Tribune, declined to say who provided the photographs. He said he published them because of their potential political impact.

“For the Bahamas, it’s not just a salacious story,” he said. “It’s a story with pretty far-reaching political implications.”

Ron Rale, a lawyer for Smith and representative of her most recent companion, Howard K. Stern, scrambled to keep control over items he said were stolen from the mansion over the weekend, including images from a computer taken from the house.

Rale said anyone who disseminates the items without his prior written consent “will be held liable to the fullest extent of the law”. Rale said police have recovered all the missing property.

Meanwhile, Ford Shelley, the son-in-law of developer G. Ben Thompson who once dated Smith, said he found the methadone on Friday when he went to secure the house after Smith died on Thursday in Florida.

Both Smith and Thompson claimed ownership of the house. Thompson said he loaned Smith money for the house, but Smith claimed Thompson had given her the gated mansion as a gift.

Shelley said he notified police about the drugs, saying he felt a responsibility to do so.

Shelley added that he went to Nassau after hearing that Gibson’s mother, who was reportedly caring for Smith’s five month-old daughter during her trip to Florida, went to the house to remove some of the baby’s things.

Stern has since reclaimed the mansion and is staying there with the baby, Dannielynn Hope Marshall Stern.

Stern said he is trying to keep Smith’s mother, Vergie Arthur, from seeing Dannielynn. Arthur travelled from the United States and went to the gates of the mansion on Sunday.

Stern insisted that Smith hated her mother.

“She just despised that woman,” Stern said, in a video segment broadcast Monday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Arthur told “Good Morning America” that she fears for Dannielynn’s safety, noting Stern had been present when Daniel Smith died.

“I do have a problem with her being with Howard Stern,” Arthur said. “I had a daughter and I had a grandson. He was there when both of them died. Now I only have a granddaughter left, and now he has her, and I’m afraid for her.”

Stern said in an interview with “Entertainment Tonight” that he is the executor of a will drafted for Anna Nicole Smith that will leave everything to the girl.

Stern is listed on a birth certificate as Dannielynn’s father. But two other men have challenged the paternity claim.

A former boyfriend, Larry Birkhead, has filed a lawsuit claiming he is the father. Arthur backs his claim.

Prince Frederic von Anhalt, the husband of actress Zsa Zsa Gabor, has said he had a decade-long affair with Smith and may be the father. He said yesterday he plans to file a paternity challenge in court and wants a DNA test.

Since the death in 1995 of her 90-year-old husband, Texas oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall II, Smith had been waging a court battle over his estate.

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