I am making this statement with respect to the action I have taken today regarding Senator Alicia “Chucky” Hansen and her request for a pardon and her eligibility to run for a seat in the 31st Legislature and her ability to serve if so chosen by the voters of St. Croix. In so doing, I am not questioning the past illegal acts taken by the Senator to which she has pled guilty. Nor am I questioning the fact that these crimes have been definitively defined by The Supreme Court of the Virgin Islands as crimes of moral turpitude. Those determinations have been made.
However, I am not comfortable with an outcome that denies the voters of St. Croix an opportunity to decide again for themselves what they have twice before decided during the elections for the 29th and 30th Legislatures. It was publicly known at the time of those elections that the Senator had been convicted of these crimes. It was also known that she had completed her sentence and fulfilled the obligations that followed from her conviction and sentencing. Moreover, her candidacy was challenged in each of those election cycles and the election system qualified her and placed her name on the ballot for each of those two elections. She was elected in both.
Now, having again been initially certified as a candidate for the 31st Legislature, the challenge to her eligibility was taken to a higher level, indeed the highest level in our judicial system, and the determination has been made that the crimes to which she pled guilty would disqualify her from service in the 31st Legislature unless she is pardoned. She has asked for that pardon. And I shall grant it because I believe that the wrong that she committed stands, as it has stood, as a mark against her and her record, but that it is properly for those who have elected her to public office knowing the facts of her conviction to decide whether she should serve again. They will have an opportunity in November to decide whether anything has changed and it is my view that the voters should make the decision with respect to her continued service.
I should also note that the Attorney General has informed me that his office reads the elections laws to state that having been disqualified by reason of the Opinion of the Supreme Court the Senator is entitled to the notice and opportunity to cure set forth in 18 VI Code 411 (c). I trust that she will be afforded that opportunity. I would hope that the Senator, as all citizens, will be afforded the fullest due process to which she is entitled because I believe that if she does not receive such due process there will be continued litigation on this matter further complicating the processes of this election cycle. If that were to occur, there will be nothing more that I can do beyond what I have done which is to state plainly my view that on the facts of this case, and the history of past actions taken and elections held, the proper decision-makers with respect to the Senator’s continued service should be the voters of the island of St. Croix.
I am fully aware that this is a controversial decision that will provoke much emotion and discussion. However, after much soul searching, I have concluded that the best decision I can make is the one I have made because I know that that decision will be immediately put to the test of ratification by the electorate of St. Croix.