Sen. Sarauw Releases 10 Months Worth of Transparency Reports, Sen. Donna Frett-Gregory Publishes First Newsletter


St. Thomas — Senator Sarauw has released ten months of transparency reports. The reports detail Sarauw’s work while in office and also include financial reports from her office starting from April 2018 to January 2019.

In January, State of the Territory News published a story after the senator’s transparency reports stopped surfacing for several months. Sarauw reached out to State of the Territory to clarify that her reports stopped due to backlog from the Legislatures business office. Because the business office tracks allotments and is a centralized process, this prevented her and her team from rolling out reports for more than half of 2018.

2018 Campaign Flyer on Transparency

Senator Sarauw is not required to release public transparency reports by law. The new transparency report(s) from Sarauw’s office is a staggering 42 pages long, so it may time some time to sift through it. In the 42 page document, available on her official website, 10 months worth of transparency reports have been combined.  

After taking office, the newly elected senator swiftly released her office’s first financial report, detailing expenditures, significant events and legislation making its way through senate chambers — the first transparency report was released within her first two months in office.

In these reports, similar to monthly newsletters, Sarauw and her team capture behind the scenes moments as they hit the ground. Senator Sarauw is perhaps the most transparent elected official, specifically because her office has released approximately 19 transparency reports since since she took office in 2017 and made them all available for the public to peruse.

Source: The Office of Senator Janelle K. Sarauw

Senator Donna Frett-Gregory also joined the wave and released her first newsletter — it seems like both senators will be actively rolling out monthly updates.

Source: Senator Sarauw’s Official Facebook Account

Senator Frett-Gregory’s report is slightly different from Sarauw’s. It details her office’s movements, including activities they have taken part in. However, there is not a financial section the resembles previous reports Senator Sarauw’s office has published. Frett-Gregory is also not required by law to release transparency reports for the general public.

One other key difference is how both senators implemented the updates. Senator Sarauw’s reports are generally hosted on her official website and link to a PDF file you can easily download, while Senator Frett-Gregory’s reports are hosted on a separate site and published as shareable blog posts.

“We are faced with many challenges, but I wish to remind all that where there are challenges, there are opportunities and we must use our creativity to create those opportunities,” Frett-Gregory said at the start of the Committee on Finance hearing in February.

Today, senators and other elected officials in the territory are tweeting and using more social platforms to maximize their reach. Governor Albert Bryan even tweeted excerpts in real time from his first State of the Territory Address in January.

Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett gained a staggering 42,000 followers on Twitter in seven days following her now famous eye-roll created a media frenzy. This makes her the most followed elected official representing the Virgin Islands — her previous Twitter following was just over 6,000.

As government shifts gears after Democrats won a super-majority in November, a more transparent and accountable elected body seems to be emerging in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Read Senator Sarauw report here.

Read Senator Frett-Gregory’s report here.

Featured image courtesy of the Office of Janelle K. Sarauw

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