Rep. Tina Sablan: Governor’s expenditures require more investigation

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REPRESENTATIVE Christina M. Sablan said, “There are questions about the governor’s reimbursements for certain types of expenditures that really seem to be either personal or political purposes.”

She said these “require more investigation. We have been hearing the concerns of our constituents. We have concerns ourselves. We’ve had these concerns for months.”

She added, “On the minority side, we’ve had the benefit of being able to review these records over…the course of several months, and so we are glad that [Speaker Blas Jonathan “BJ” T. Attao] has appointed this bipartisan committee,” referring to the House Special Committee on the Fiscal Review of Executive Expenditures, which will have its first organizational meeting today, July 13, 2020, at 9 a.m.

She said the minority bloc has been calling for the appointment of a bipartisan committee since last year. Now that one has been formed, she said the minority bloc, along with the legal counsel, are working to submit to the House an official report on their investigation into executive expenditures.

  

Speaker Blas Jonathan “BJ” T. Attao, right, speaks during a meeting of the House Special Committee on Federal Assistance and Disaster-Related Funding on Capital Hill in June. Photo by K-Andrea Evarose S. Limol

 “One thing that we did not have as a minority bloc is subpoena powers to call in witnesses…[or] for records that were not submitted because as I’ve noted before, the secretary of Finance has not fully complied with the Open Government Act. There are still pending records that we have not yet been able to obtain, and now, as members of the [new] special committee, we will be able to get these records, and also call in people to testify.”

Sablan said a number of the documents they received from the Department of Finance through the Open Government Act were redacted.

She said Secretary of Finance David DLG Atalig has yet to respond to the inquiries of the minority bloc regarding said redacted information.

In a separate interview, Atalig said the redacted information does not include costs of expenditures, only private information, such as Social Security numbers and similar information.

Asked about the timing of the investigation given that it is an election year, Sablan said, “I’ve said this before and I will say it again, I think it would be even more political to ignore these issues, to not do our jobs. Legislative oversight is an essential function of this Legislature, and checks and balances are an important part of our whole system of government.”

Rep. Luis John DLG Castro, a member of the House leadership and the special committee, said:  “I know it’s…a tough job, especially in the times that we’re in right now, but…of course, we, as the Legislature, need to do our due diligence…come to…a decision on what to do, because ultimately, we want to try to make sure that everybody follows the law.”

The other members of the special committee  are  Rep. Ralph N. Yumul, chairman; Vice Speaker Lorenzo I. Deleon Guerrero, vice chairman;  House Floor Leader John Paul P. Sablan; House Minority Leader Edwin K. Propst; Rep. Donald M. Manglona; and Rep. Edmund S. Villagomez.

 

 

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