Withholding Sen. Marvin Blyden’s response to the Legislature’s Ethics Committee is unfair and disrespectful to Senator Blyden and to the public.
Not only that, withholding public information is a violation of the long-standing, trial-tested V.I. law guaranteeing freedom of information.
Senator Blyden has met the committee’s 20-day deadline to submit his answer to the accusation that he violated the Legislature’s ethics by defying a COVID-19 quarantine order.
The Ethics Committee’s silence —about what Blyden said and about what the committee will do — is creating an information void in which Blyden is being tried in the court of public opinion.
He is left hanging, not knowing his fate.
The public is left hanging without information — but with plenty of unanswered negative impressions and biased assumptions.
The facts of Senator Blyden’s actions are well-known, via V.I. Superior Court documents and sworn testimony in open court:
• Senator Blyden got two COVID-19 tests. Both were positive, meaning he had to quarantine to avoid infecting others with the highly contagious virus.
• Instead, Blyden drove a Senate SUV to a concert, parked it in a handicapped-only space, and went into the venue, where he mingled with the crowd.
But what is not fully known are his reasons for those actions. He will have to account for those to the court, where he pleaded not guilty.
To the Ethics Committee, he had to explain his actions in the context of ethical standards.
The committee owes it to him to tell the public what he said, no matter what it is or whether it casts him in a bad light or a good light.
But one thing is certain: Refusing to obey V.I. law by not disclosing Sen. Blyden’s response is wrong, and the Ethics Committee Chairman, Sen. Milton Potter, should take the legal and ethical approach, on behalf of the committee, and release the information. Blyden and the community deserve no less.