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    Tuesday, October 16, 2018-12:39:39A.M.






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Guam senator’s ethics violation case awaits next step

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — The legislative legal counsel’s advice is being sought on the next steps following the legislative ethics committee’s findings almost a month ago that minority leader and Republican Sen. James Espaldon broke a legislative ethics rule.

“The matter will be considered in accordance with the standing rules, once we have finished our consultation with legal counsel,” Speaker Benjamin Cruz’s chief policy analyst, Carlo Branch, said on Friday. “That consultation is ongoing.”

James EspaldonJames Espaldon

On Sept. 19, the committee on ethics submitted Resolution 239-34 to the Guam Legislature. The resolution outlines recommended actions, including censure and having him step down from being the leader among Republican minority senators. The committee did not recommend Espaldon’s removal or resignation from the Legislature.

The committee’s recommendations will need to be approved by the entire Legislature before they can be enforced.

Last month, the committee found Espaldon violated the Code of Ethics and Standards, which states: “A member or staff employee of I Liheslaturan Guåhan shall conduct the person’s life, both public and private, so as to bring honor and respect to the person’s office.”

Saipan Rep. Ed Propst, filed a formal complaint alleging Espaldon used his Guam public office to open doors when Espaldon was negotiating on behalf of a business that was trying to sell an $11 million power generating system to the local government-run utilities corporation in Saipan. A staffer to Espaldon was a shareholder of the business, and the staffer’s stepmother was the chairwoman of the utilities corporation that decided to buy the power plant system. The power generator purchase was later revoked because of conflict-of-interest questions.

The committee had also recommended 16 hours of refresher training in ethics in a government program for Espaldon and his staff.

The committee hearing the complaint was led by Sen. Fernando Esteves, who has recused himself from the committee because he, too, is under investigation.

Guam resident Barry Mead filed a complaint last week after Esteves joined a human chain of protesters that blocked the main gate at Andersen Air Force Base recently in protest over a military firing range project.