Ninth District Representative Vincent Wheatley has strongly refuted claims that he ever stayed at an apartment on Tortola paid for by the government at any time after he was elected in 2019 with the Virgin Islands Party (VIP).
While debating the audit report on Assistance Grants in the House of Assembly (HOA) yesterday, March 9, Wheatley disclosed that he was approached by a resident who asked about the allegation.
According to Wheatley, who resides on Virgin Gorda, he immediately denied the claims when the resident accosted him recently.
“When I was first elected, the then Speaker, not this one now, came to me and said, since you live off-island, we are going to get you an apartment [on Tortola], in case you have to stay over. Sometimes the House [of Assembly] may run late, so we’ll get you an apartment,” Wheatley said.
He added: “I said to the Speaker at that time, I say, ‘If this is the way you plan to waste taxpayers money, I absolutely want no part of it’. I said to him, ‘If I have to stay over, I have enough family, friends, or money to rent a hotel room, do not engage me in wasting taxpayers’ money.”
The former Labour Minister argued that he had better ideas of how to use taxpayers’ money than to let the former Speaker take $2,500 a month to rent a place for him that was unnecessary.
“I don’t even know where it is. Never been there, never seen, I don’t know anything, so please, for the record, I have never been in an apartment down here. I don’t even know where it is. Please do not associate my name with any apartment on Tortola,” Wheatley pleaded.
I’ve had to take the police launch
Meanwhile, Wheatley’s comments stood in contrast to those made by former VIP member and now-Ninth District candidate for the Progressive Virgin Islands Movement (PVIM), Shereen Flax-Charles, who is also a Virgin Gorda resident.
“The apartment was supposed to be a shared apartment with the other [HOA] member, who travels from overseas,” Flax-Charles disclosed at a recent press conference.
The lawmaker cited security concerns when declining to disclose how often she actually stays at the apartment but acknowledged using the apartment given that House sittings sometimes end very late at night.
“I’ve had to take the police launch on many an occasion [to Virgin Gorda], actually falling and severely injuring my knee on that police launch one night,” she shared.
Flax-Charles related that she has a teenage child that lives in Virgin Gorda and said she needed to commute to be with her child. She further contended that, while she signed up as a political representative to help the territory, she did not sign up to neglect her child.
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