Frazer says he has no intention of looking into Fawkes' lawbreaking


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ST. THOMAS - Despite stating two weeks ago that he would look into the shredding of public records by Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes, V.I. Attorney General Vincent Frazer said Thursday he has no intention of investigating the matter.

Fawkes asked political candidates to turn in a police record as part of their nomination petition packets. The Daily News requested copies of the packets, but when they were presented, the criminal records were not included. Fawkes said the records were returned to the candidates or shredded.

Frazer said because the documents came from another primary source - the police department - Elections is free to shred them. He said it did not obstruct the public's access to the records, because the records could be obtained from the police directly.

"Throughout the whole government, there are shredders and there are retention policies that allow for documents to be shredded," Frazer said. "At various times and in various circumstances, documents are shredded. You can't expect us to keep everything."

When asked whether a public official destroying public records is cause for investigation, Frazer said: "I didn't think so. I thought the matter was satisfactorily addressed in your discussion with her and the police department."

Daily News legal counsel Kevin Rames said the Elections law provides that all documents, papers and records in the office of the Board of Elections relating to the conduct of any primary or election must be retained for a period of two years.

"It is clear to the entire Virgin Islands community that the police reports were destroyed by the Supervisor of Elections solely in order to frustrate the document request by The Daily News. This is precisely what Title 3 V.I.C. Section 881(f) is intended to prohibit," Rames said. "The destruction of those documents constitutes a crime under Title 18 V.I.C. 853(1), punishable by a fine and imprisonment. The law is as clear as it is unequivocal. What occurred here was unlawful and should neither be condoned nor tolerated."

- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email alewin@dailynews.vi.

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