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Tuesday, March 28, 2023
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Hansen Seeks Pardon to Stay on Ballot

Attorneys representing Sen. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen have asked Gov. John deJongh Jr. to pardon the senator, which would allow her to continue as a candidate for the 31st Legislature in the November general election, Government House said Sunday.

DeJongh has directed the attorney general to research the issues presented by the Supreme Court court ordering Hansen off the ballot, according to the Government House statement.

"The governor has called for this review to be concluded with all deliberate speed so that he can have the benefit of full legal analysis before deciding what action will best serve the public interest," the statement said. "These matters need to be promptly resolved to assure the rights of both Sen. Hansen and those of the voters on St Croix as well as to meet the requirements of the election laws."

In an opinion issued Thursday, the V.I. Supreme Court decided Hansen’s conviction on willfully failing to file income tax returns amounted to crimes of moral terpitude, rendering her ineligible to serve in the next Legislature. The court ordered her name to be removed from the ballot, overturning the V.I. Supervisor of Elections and V.I. Superior Court.

“The Supreme Court of the Virgin Islands has spoken and it has answered the question of whether the crime of willful failure to file tax returns is a crime of moral turpitude, which would disqualify one so convicted, and not pardoned, from serving in the Legislature," deJongh said in commenting on the decision. "The Court said that it was such a crime. Few can question the duty – legal and moral – of all to file the tax returns they are required to file and pay the taxes they owe. Surely we can all recognize this duty and most especially so in a time of extreme fiscal crisis when we lack the necessary resources to fully fund our government."

However, he said, Hansen’s legal representatives have pointed out that she has been twice elected by the voters of St Croix after they learned of her conviction and after the Election System’s processes resulted in her name being on the ballot for the election of members of both the 29th and 30th Legislature.

“Senator Hansen’s attorney has called upon me as governor to exercise the authority granted to me under the Revised Organic Act of 1954, as amended, to pardon the senator, arguing that a pardon at this time will remove her disqualification for service in the 31st Legislature.”

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