Select Page

US Virgin Islands Governor Bryan facing controversy over involvement in British Virgin Islands politics

by | Aug 9, 2023 | Elections, United States Virgin Islands | 0 comments

United States Virgin Islands Governor Albert Bryan Jr. (D), inaugurated in 2019, has encountered some legal challenges in recent months. 

According to USVI Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes, the campaign of Governor Bryan and Lt. Gov. Tregenza Roach has been fined $2,000 for holding an illegal event with the Prime Minister of Dominica in September 2022. 

Supposedly, the September 27 online event was labeled as an “international virtual fundraiser” and campaign rally with “our special guest,” Roosevelt Skerrit, the Prime Minister of Dominica.

“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.’ I hope this deters other candidates from committing this same error in the future,” Fawkes said. 

Title 18 of the VI Code, which governs the territory’s election law, found that the event with Skerrit was indeed illegal, with the event advertised as an “international virtual fundraiser.” “No Foreign Official can endorse, fundraise nor support any US Candidate for elections; this includes the Virgin Islands of the United States,” Fawkes explained. 

After diligently advising all four clubs, the St. Thomas campaign manager was finally given a fine of $2,000 for the violation. Penalties can range anywhere from $0 to $5,000. The penalty has been paid and placed into the GVI account. 

Following the fall fundraiser with Skerrit, Governor Bryan came under scrutiny once again in March, with his endorsement of the campaigns of British Virgin Islands politicians Hon Kye M. Rymer (R5) and the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) re-election campaign of Premier Dr the Hon Natalio D. Wheatley. It is illegal for a United States politician, in this case, Governor Bryan, to travel to Tortola in the British Virgin Islands to show public support at a political rally for candidates of a British Overseas Territory’s election and a British Virgin Islands political party.

Political commentator Claude Skelton Cline criticized Governor Bryan, calling the event “unethical” and “unwise.” Cline himself has also been accused of unethical behavior, but that did not stop him from describing Governor Bryan’s injection into the BVI’s local politics as unprecedented

“Why would he inject himself in the local campaign politics of the [British] Virgin Islands?” Cline asked, questioning Governor Bryan’s motives. 

Territorial At-Large Representative Carvin Malone defended the governor’s endorsement. Acknowledging that while the endorsement may have been “troubling for some,” the party’s record of achievement speaks for itself.

Meanwhile, the Elections System has been trying to make candidates and their supporters more aware of election laws. However, it has been difficult to get political clubs to attend campaign disclosure training, according to Fawkes. 

If these political clubs provide any funds to a particular Candidate, they must first file a Campaign Disclosure Report with the Elections System of the Virgin Islands, according to Title 18 of the V.I. code. “Candidates’ delinquent in submitting their report(s) timely are subject to having their names published in the local newspapers as elected officials. Failure to submit the campaign disclosure report by the deadline will result in candidates and political committees incurring fees,” according to a news release.

Per the Federal Election System, “Federal law prohibits contributions, donations, expenditures(including independent expenditures) and disbursements solicited, directed, received or made directly or indirectly by or from foreign nationals in connection with any federal, state or local election.” 

So are these instances, both in the Dominica and British Virgin Islands, a lack of due diligence on behalf of the Bryan administration? Will this serve as a minor blip for Bryan and his administration or be a cause for greater concern among citizens? These are now the swirling questions that not only Governor Bryan but the people of the US Virgin Islands must confront,



Jesse Dimich-Louvet

Jesse Dimich-Louvet

Jesse W. Dimich-Louvet is a senior journalism major and political science minor at the Lew Klein College of Media and Communication at Temple University. He grew up between Billings, Montana, and Paris, France, and covers politics and sports for Temple. At Pasquines, Jesse is a former US Virgin Islands Affairs Intern Editor.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.