V.I. GOP Chair Peddling False Accusation About Christensen

A recent email sent to GOP members and news media by V.I. GOP State Chairman Herb Schoenbohm saying Delegate Donna Christensen voted against extending unemployment benefits is false.
"There is something you will not see covered by the V.I. dominant media culture … Your delegate voting no against a 13 week extension of unemployment compensation in areas where the unemployment rate exceeds 8.5 per cent which includes the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico," Schoenbohm wrote.
The bill in question was proposed by Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash) referred to the Committee on Ways and Means, and in addition to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, then approved by the House of Representatives with bipartisan support by a vote of 331 to 83 with 18 abstentions. Christensen is not listed as a vote of any kind, nor as absent or abstaining for the simple reason that she does not have a vote in the full house. Because the Virgin Islands are not a state, the delegate cannot vote on the floor of the House, but, due to a law passed in 2007, can vote in committee and in a committee of the whole, when the House considers certain amendments and finance bills.
Reached Wednesday evening, Christensen’s aide Aesha Duval confirmed Christensen does not sit on the committees that considered the two bills that comprised this measure, and was prevented by law from voting on the bill on the House floor.
"The reason why she is not listed under yea or nay for either bill is because she does not have a vote," Duval said. "This is also the case for the Resident Commissioner for Puerto Rico and the delegates for Guam, American Samoa and CNMI (Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands)."
In his inaccurate e-mail, Schoenbohm urges readers to contact "your favorite media personality who report only positive items spoon fed to them by Dr. Donna Christiansen and ask them why they prefer being a public information officer for the delegate rather than a true journalist asking at least a few probing questions."
Reached for comment Thursday, Schoenbohm stood by his statements, pointing out that one online listing of the vote on the bill in question shows Christensen as "no data," and asserting that meant she voted no.
When asked if that meant there was no record of a vote because she was not allowed to vote, Schoenbohm began discussing Medicare, Social Security Supplemental Income and other programs that he believes Christensen is not representing the territory as well as could be hoped.
Pressed on the question of whether he still stood by his assertion that Christensen voted against extending unemployment benefits, Schoenbohm said he did.
"That is the same as voting no," Schoenbohm said. "She has a duty to be there and participate."
As described previously, Christensen had no opportunity to vote on the bill in question.

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