Gov. Charles W. Turnbull has called suggestions that he may have received gifts and favors in exchange for granting an exclusive negotiating contract to Southern Energy to buy the Water and Power Authority "false and malicious."
In an article Thursday in the V.I. Independent, Lee Rohn, the St. Croix attorney who has filed a suit against the V.I. government charging violations of territorial competitive bidding laws, was quoted as saying she thought gifts and favors "have been exchanged between the governor, (WAPA) board members and Southern Energy."
The lawsuit alleges that Southern Energy paid the airfare to Atlanta and lodging for members of the V.I. negotiating team. The team stayed at the Ritz-Carlton there.
Southern Energy spokesman Chuck Griffin told St. Croix Source, "Yes, we did bring them to Atlanta and they did stay at the Ritz Carlton. But we sent them an invoice. Their time spent here (Atlanta) was mostly in a conference room."
Rohn's suit, brought on behalf of St. Croix community activist Gail Watson Chiang, further contends the governor should have received approval from the Legislature before negotiating for the sale of WAPA.
Rohn also told the Independent, "We want the government to discontinue its practice of doing business behind closed doors."
In the release from Government House Friday night Turnbull said, "Any sale of any interest in WAPA must ultimately be approved by the Legislature after a full and public hearing of all the pros and cons of the issue and must be approved by the Legislature. The plaintiffs, in this case are in the wrong forum."