First District Representative Andrew Fahie should resign his seat in the House of Assembly without further ado.
If he refuses, he should be removed as soon as possible.
Mr. Fahie, who is accused of conspiring to import cocaine into the United States, is of course innocent until proven guilty. But the allegations against him are so serious that he should have stepped down the day after his April arrest if only to mitigate the damage the allegations have caused to the territory’s reputation.
Moreover, he will be in no position to properly represent his constituency anytime soon. With his trial scheduled to start next January, he is on house arrest in his daughters’ Miami apartment wearing an electronic ankle bracelet.
Even if he were allowed to attend HOA meetings remotely in the coming months — and he certainly shouldn’t be — he presumably will be busy planning his defence.
So far, Virgin Islands leaders are treating the issue like a hot potato instead of taking a stand and urging him to step down.
Governor John Rankin has declined to comment on Mr. Fahie’s seat, referring questions to the government. Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley has been similarly reticent, suggesting that Mr. Fahie’s fate rests with the new HOA speaker, Corine George-Massicote.
Ms. George-Massicote, who was sworn in on May 26, did not respond to the Beacon’s queries in recent days, but she does appear to have some authority over the matter: The HOA Standing Orders require a member to vacate their seat if they are absent for three consecutive sittings in one session without written leave from the speaker.
Mr. Fahie hasn’t attended the HOA since his arrest in April, meaning that he has missed consecutive parts of two multi-day sittings and the entirety of a third — all during one session. However, the Standing Orders don’t say if missing part of a multi-day sitting counts toward the three-sitting limit.
We also don’t know if the speaker or her predecessor gave Mr. Fahie written leave to miss any sittings, though at the start of the June 30 meeting Ms. George-Massicote said he had notified her of his absence.
Otherwise, Mr. Fahie has been silent since his arrest, making no public statement outside of court filings.
However, he is apparently pulling a healthy salary at taxpayer expense. We don’t know the details of his current package, but non-ministers in the HOA typically receive about $83,000 annually once all their allowances are counted.
Mr. Fahie has already done the territory a grave disservice by staying in office this long. The sooner he goes, the better.
If he doesn’t resign straightaway, the governor, premier and other leaders should end their silence and publicly urge him to do so. And under no circumstance should the speaker grant him leave to miss any more HOA sittings or to attend remotely.
Once Mr. Fahie is replaced through a by-election, the First District can get the representation it deserves and the whole territory can begin to heal from the trauma of his arrest.
This can’t happen soon enough.