A virtual rally in September featuring an endorsement from Dominican Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit of Gov. Albert Bryan Jr and Lt. Gov. Tregenza Roach was “illegal,” according to Elections System officials, who charged the campaign a $2,000 fine.
Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes explained by email that she received a complaint about the endorsement and conducted an investigation, which she said was closed on Jan. 12.
“In the conduct of my investigation, which included speaking with the four St. Thomas Democratic clubs and the campaign managers, I researched and reviewed both Virgin Islands Code 18 and federal laws, it was found that the event with Premier Minister of Dominica Roosevelt Skerrit was illegal,” Fawkes wrote. “No foreign official can endorse, fundraise nor support any U.S. candidate for elections, this includes the Virgin Islands of the United States.”
The Elections System had advised clubs and campaign managers of the campaign disclosure rules and regulations and has conducted trainings, though the political clubs don’t generally attend, she added.
“This is the first time this has been done under my watch, there is a reason why this hasn’t happened before because it is ‘illegal,’ Fawkes said. “I hope this deters other candidates from committing this same error in the future.”
It’s worth noting, she added, that “many political clubs are popping up without filing with the Lieutenant Governor’s Office.”
“They were also informed that if they provide any funds to a candidate, they must file a campaign disclosure report with the Election System of the Virgin Islands,” Fawkes wrote, adding that the campaign conducted and funded the event and thus was charged the fine, which ranges from no financial penalty up to $5,000. The $2,000 has since been received and deposited into the government’s account, Fawkes said.
In a press release last week, the Elections System reminded candidates and political committees that all campaign disclosure reports must be submitted to the Office of the Supervisor of Elections by Jan. 23. Forms can be downloaded from the system’s website. The release noted that if a campaign bank account has been closed, bank statements reflecting that should also be submitted.
Click here for the full release on campaign disclosures.