Oct. 21, 2002 – The widow of Gov. Alexander A. Farrelly on Monday repudiated accusations by Democratic State Chair James O'Bryan Jr. challenging the legitimacy and origin of a January letter written to candidate for governor John de Jongh Jr. by her late husband.
"Let me assure you," Joan Farrelly stated, "that the letter was written by Alexander Farrelly."
After thanking the people of the territory for their "support, prayers and outpouring of love" since the death on Sept. 10 of the two-term Democratic governor, Mrs. Farrelly described her desire to clarify "numerous statements made relative to the letter written by my dear husband and published by Mr. de Jongh."
She said that although she had tried to stay out of the gubernatorial campaign, remaining silent "has become impossible in light of the fact that questions have arisen concerning the validity of the letter."
Gov. Charles W. Turnbull, who is running for a second term, is doing so under the banner of the Democratic Party, as Farrelly had done in both of his successful gubernatorial campaigns. De Jongh is running as an independent.
De Jongh reproduced the Farrelly letter in paid advertisements last Thursday in the territory's two daily print newspapers in response to accusations by Turnbull that de Jongh had acted deceitfully when he was Gov. Farrelly's top adviser and that de Jongh had tried to subvert the Farrelly administration's purchase of The West Indian Co. from Danish interests.
Last week, de Jongh told the Source that it was Turnbull's accusatory words on the record in an Oct. 4 radio address that forced him to publish the Farrelly letter. (See "De Jongh refutes 'rumor' with Farrelly letter".)
Until that radio address, De Jongh said, he had chosen to ignore efforts by the governor's re-election campaign "to peddle this fabrication for quite some time."
In a prepared statement on Thursday after the ads appeared, O'Bryan, speaking for the Democratic Party and its district leadership, characterized as "very questionable" the origins of the Farrelly letter, which disputed Turnbull's accusations concerning de Jongh's role in the acquisition of WICO.
"Obviously, Gov. Farrelly's medical condition did not allow him to prepare such a letter," O'Bryan asserted in the release. He added, "A close examination of the signature shows no resemblance to the signature of a healthy Gov. Farrelly."
But in her short, strongly worded message on Monday, the former first lady insisted that the late governor's letter to de Jongh was authentic. "The letter speaks for itself and stands on its own," Mrs. Farrelly said Monday.
In the letter, the late governor had written to de Jongh that he, Farrelly, had "had your unequivocal support of the government's purchase of WICO … At no point did you attempt to thwart my decision or undermine my effort to purchase WICO."
The Farrelly letter further stated, "It is both untrue and malicious for anyone to say that you did any such thing or that I asked you to leave the government."
O'Bryan's press release suggested that the Farrelly letter had been "prepared and delivered for the late governor's signature by one of Mr. de Jongh's operatives."
A Government House insider, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said on Monday that Mrs. Farrelly had been under considerable pressure over the weekend from Turnbull and others associated with the governor re-election campaign not to go public with her response to O'Bryan's charges.
But early on Monday morning, Mrs. Farrelly used the facilities of WVWI Radio to issue her statement in both oral and written forms. She asked that the recording and text of her statement be distributed to all electronic and print media, to be embargoed until each outlet had been contacted. She did not take questions.
"I trust this will put the matter to rest," Mrs. Farrelly concluded her comments. "Although the official state mourning is ended, please understand that the family continues to mourn. There will be no further statements from me concerning this issue."
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