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Hernandez Colon Urges PDP To Tell The Truth

NPP Requests Probe Of Governor’s Televised Message

Santini: Calderon Investigated By Federal Authorities

PDP Offers Contradictory Versions Of Alleged Fraud

Audit May Confirm Fund Deviation Scheme Linked To Calderon

McClintock Denies Participating In Alleged NPP Scheme

Charlie Rodriguez: SIP Should Probe Illegal Funds Diversion

Reports Reveal NPP Also Diverted Funds

Miranda Marin Proposed Candidates Placing Calderon Ads

Ethics Committee Makes Rodriguez Hearing Transcripts Public

Hernandez Colon Urges PDP To Tell The Truth

By Proviana Colon Diaz

March 20th, 2002
Copyright © 2002
WOW News. All rights reserved.  

Former Gov. Rafael Hernandez Colon

Former Gov. Rafael Hernandez Colon made a rare public appearance Wednesday to urge his Popular Democratic Party leaders to address the allegation made in regards to Electoral Law violations with honesty and truth.

Hernandez Colon added that his statements should not be taken as a "political attack" but as a "reflection of a moral nature," as he is concerned about the acts of corruption affecting the island and the possible violations to the Electoral Law.

"I believe that before a situation like this one, we have to confront it based on the truth. We have to be completely honest with the people and let them know whatever wrongly occurred and adopt before them the position of correcting any situation that could be wrong, be it because of corrupt acts or because of a violation to the Electoral Law," Hernandez Colon said.

The former governor added that the truth was needed in order for the people to maintain their confidence in government institutions and the people in charge of them.

Hernandez Colon’s statements come one day after Gov. Sila Calderon spent $42,000 worth of public funds in a televised address urging island residents to believe in her as all allegations regarding possible use of federal funds during her campaign or violations to the Electoral Law are "totally and absolutely false.’’

Calderon’s reaction to Hernandez Colon, who was her former boss when she was secretary of State during his last tenure as governor, came shortly after as the media asked for her response during Wednesday afternoon’s activity in Juncos.

"The only thing that comes to mind to say is that knowing me as Hernandez Colon knows me, knowing me as I worked during his administration, knowing me as I always opposed any initiative from his administration that wasn’t right, and the circumstances in which my oppositions were made, I find it most strange for him to make a calling for the truth because he knows that I always speak the truth," Calderon said.

The governor then declined to say if Hernandez Colon had ever made a proposition that she considered illegal and as such demonstrated her opposition.

"I won’t go into details, but Hernandez Colon knows exactly how strict I am in light of something that might be incorrect. There is no one in Puerto Rico who knows that better than him," Calderon said.

This is not the first time that a public clash between mentor and protégée takes place, as Calderon openly declined to endorse the candidacy of Hernandez Colon’s son Jose Alfredo Hernandez Mayoral to be her running mate in the gubernatorial voting ballot.

The former governor made his statement following his deposition before the Senate Infrastructure, Technological Development, and Commerce Committee, which is studying a bill seeking to amend the billboards law. During his brief deposition, Hernandez Colon made a mockery of the bill and asked the legislators to read it again to see if anyone could understand it and explain it to him.

Meanwhile, in regards to the allegations made against her campaign financing and the fact that she used public funds to answer those allegations of a strictly political nature, Calderon said Wednesday that she will not reimburse the funds as she was speaking to the people as the elected governor and not as a politician.

A visibly upset governor then said she will not issue any more statements on the matter until the investigations ordered by her are completed as all the speculations are more damaging to the people.

"We are doing a great damage to Puerto Rico. This goes beyond me. We can’t presume that all of us in the government are violating the law, are corrupt, or come here to rob," Calderon said.

One of the institutions to which she endowed such investigation is the Blue Ribbon Committee, whose chairman, David Noriega, said Tuesday night that the group is not authorized to investigate municipal matters.

Calderon, who created the organism, said Wednesday that she would most likely amend her executive order to grant authority to the committee to investigate municipal matters.

Ethics, Comptroller Offices Asked To Probe TV Message

March 20, 2002
Copyright © 2002
The Associated Press. All rights reserved.  

SAN JUAN (AP) — The New Progressive Party (NPP) Senate delegation requested Wednesday in two letters that the Commonwealth Comptroller’s Office and the Government Ethics Office investigate possible violations to the law due to the use of public funds to pay for Gov. Sila Calderon’s televised message Tuesday evening.

Calderon broadcast a message at a cost of $42,000 in public funds to deny the alleged corruption violation of the Electoral Law attributed to the Popular Democratic Party (PDP).

NPP Sen. Kenneth McClintock said the governor violated the Commonwealth Constitution, which establishes that "public funds and properties may only be used for public ends and for the support and function of state institutions."

"The governor violated Article VI, Section 9 of the Commonwealth Constitution by using the moneys of the people to try to save the face of her party," McClintock said in a joint press conference with NPP Sen. Pablo Lafontaine.

Regarding the Government Ethics Law, McClintock said the governor violated Article 3.2 C, which states that "no public official or public employee will make use of the duties and faculties of his or her post, nor public property or funds to obtain direct or indirect advantages, benefits, or privileges that are not allowed by law for that person, a family member, or any other person, business, or entity."

The governor had to recur to the use of public funds to deny published reports that claimed irregularities in the financing of her campaign. During a press conference Monday, in which she tried to clear things, her intentions backfired as PDP Rep. Alida Arizmendi gave contradictory versions of the campaign ad in which she appeared asking for a vote in favor of the governor.

Calderon also denied information that disclosed that her past San Juan municipal administration deviated public funds for her campaign, which allowed her to become the first woman in the island’s top public post.

Santini: Calderon Investigated By Federal Authorities

March 19, 2002
Copyright © 2002
The Associated Press. All rights reserved.  

SAN JUAN (AP) - San Juan Mayor Jorge Santini insisted Tuesday that federal authorities are performing an audit of the public funds used during the tenure of Gov. Sila Calderon as San Juan mayor.

Santini said the illegal use of federal funds of the San Juan Special Communities project is being audited as well.

According to the municipal executive, the allegedly misused funds were destined to other municipal programs.

"The federal government is auditing," Santini affirmed, without getting into any details.

On the other hand, Santini said the municipality is performing an internal investigation, in which it is demonstrated that documents pertaining to some transactions were altered.

"We are investigating from document disappearance, destruction, and alteration pattern to the Special Communities management program, risking thousands of dollars," denounced the mayor.

PDP Offers Contradictory Versions Of Alleged Fraud

By Proviana Colon Diaz

March 18th, 2002
Copyright © 2002
WOW News. All rights reserved.  

An attempt from Gov. Sila Calderon to reaffirm that no deviation of funds ever took place during her gubernatorial campaign backfired Monday as Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Rep. Alida Arizmendi contradicted herself several times when trying to explain that in fact, she did have a debt for an ad in favor of the governor, but that she just hadn’t received the bill until recently.

The rookie legislator who last week acknowledged that during the campaign she had been asked for a photo for an ad in favor of the governor, on Monday claimed she had indeed received a bill for the ad. Arizmendi had previously said she was told she wouldn’t have to pay for the ad.

In an attempt to control the press conference, which was held at La Fortaleza and not at the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) headquarters, the governor said Arizmendi had just recently come to realize that she still had to pay for the ad, and that the party would help her pay for it.

Arizmendi said the debt was not reflected in her State Elections Commission (SEC) records because it wasn’t until recently that she had received the bill. It is then that she committed a series of contradictions as she couldn’t specify when she received the bill or the amount.

"In my opinion I had no debts, because I’m very clear. I had no debts…I get this bill that is dated January 11, 2002 and I can’t file a report for 2000, if the bill did not exist," Arizmendi said.

Questioned again about her last week statements, Arizmendi then said: "I couldn’t precise the date … It could have been a couple of weeks ago."

Her contradictions caused an obvious reaction from the media, who repeatedly asked her to say when the bill had been received, but it the midst of the bombardment of questions the legislator argued she would not make any more statements on the matter until the investigation ordered by Calderon before the SEC is completed.

"You will see, everything will be known in due time, after the audit is completed," Arizmendi said.

Prior to Arizmendi’s contradictions, Calderon acknowledged, as published reports had said last week, that there was a group of legislators that placed ads speaking favorably of her candidacy. She argued however, that it was part of an "integrated campaign" to support the party’s message of change.

Nevertheless, Calderon stated that there was no violation of the Electoral Law in that practice because contrary to what has been alleged, no funds were deviated from the party, as the legislators willingly paid for the ads.

"In several occasions candidates were approached and asked if they wanted to help in broadcasting the message of change. In other occasions the candidates willingly expressed their interest in sponsoring the message," Calderon said.

The governor however, could not explain why if the ads were part of an "integrated campaign" some of the legislators in question were not aware of the debts still owed to the advertising agency.

The contradictions took place Monday afternoon after Calderon ordered an emergency meeting at La Fortaleza with leaders of the Popular Democratic Party to discuss the latest allegations of violations to the Electoral Law made against her and the collectivity.

On Monday, publish reports indicated that the Commonwealth Comptroller is investigating the illegal payments of more than $400,000 to the party’s main advertising agency Lopito Ileana & Howie in the weeks preceding the 1998 referendum and the Commonwealth’s anniversary celebration of 1999.

An operation to allegedly pay the advertising agencies with federal funds from the municipality of San Juan totaling $125,570 was also indicated.

Calderon denied the allegations and accused San Juan Mayor Jorge Santini of being responsible for it, furthermore she alleged there was no way that such a high amount of funds were used to pay for ad in 1998 because at the alleged time when a referendum was to take place there was an electoral prohibition of ads implemented by the SEC.

Still, since the allegations have to do with public funds Calderon ordered the Justice Department, the Blue Ribbon Committee, and the Commonwealth Comptroller’s Office to investigate the matter.

Summoned to attend the emergency meeting were all those whose names have surfaced during the course of the media investigation as having placed ads in favor of the governor during her electoral campaign.

They include Arizmendi, House Vice President Ferdinand Perez, former legislator Gladys Nieves, Senate Majority Leader Jose Luis Dalmau, Sen. Roberto Prats, and Sen. Cirilo Tirado.

Also present were PDP former Secretary General Secretary of State Ferdinand Mercado, as well as the current PDP Secretary General Jorge Colberg Toro.

Caguas Mayor Willam Miranda Marin, Carolina Mayor Jorge Aponte, and Mayagüez Mayor Jose Guillermo Rodriguez were also present.

Following the four-hour long meeting, Calderon said no emergency meeting had taken place, but that she asked them to be present because she wanted to let them know her statements prior to making them public.

Audit May Confirm Fund Deviation Scheme Linked To Calderon

March 18, 2002
Copyright © 2002
The Associated Press. All rights reserved.  

SAN JUAN (AP) — The Commonwealth Comptroller’s Office investigates an alleged federal fund deviation scheme at the San Juan Municipality Health Department concocted to pay television advertising ads during Gov. Sila Calderon's mayoral administration.

According to published reports, the San Juan municipality invested $125,570 in television advertising ads for the San Juan 2000 Committee, when they should have been used in health vaccination campaigns, among others.

The Lopito, Ileana & Howie advertising agency dramatically increased its contracts two weeks before the 1998 plebiscite and several weeks prior to the 1999 Commonwealth’s Anniversary Commemoration event held in Hatillo.

The use of the aforementioned public funds had the approval of the municipal Health Director Ibrahim Perez, the former Federal Affairs Coordinator Roberto Prats, and the Public Affairs Officer and Popular Democratic (PPD) fundraiser manager Eduardo Rivero Albino, as they all certified the invoices.

McClintock Denies Participating In Alleged NPP Scheme

March 17, 2002
Copyright © 2002
The Associated Press. All rights reserved.  

SAN JUAN (AP) - New Progressive Party (NPP) Sen. Kenneth McClintock rejected during the weekend that he had participated in some kind of scheme to deviate funds for the political campaign of former NPP gubernatorial candidate Carlos Pesquera.

The NPP minority leader at the Senate reacted to published reports that pointed to an alleged scheme similar to that denounced at the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) consisting in deviating funds through legislative and mayoral candidates to benefit the political campaign of Gov. Sila Calderon.

McClintock said the idea of placing ads to attack the image of the PDP gubernatorial candidate occurred to him through his contact with the people, not through a scheme concocted by the NPP.

He also affirmed that he’s not aware of any meetings allegedly held by former NPP Secretary General Jorge Davila to draft the scheme.

"If there were meetings, I was not at the party 24 hours, but that is not the ‘modus operandi’ that I know," McClintock stated.

Published reports quoted an anonymous source stating that the alleged scheme surpassed $1 million.

Charlie Rodriguez: SIP Should Probe Illegal Funds Diversion

March 16, 2002
Copyright © 2002
The Associated Press. All rights reserved.  

Former Senate president Charlie Rodriguez

PONCE (AP) - Former Senate President Charlie Rodriguez demanded Saturday that the possible illegal funds deviation to pay for the final part of the political campaign of now Gov. Sila Calderon be referred to the Special Independent Prosecutor (SIP) Panel.

Rodriguez said in Ponce that the alleged funds transfer for Calderon's campaign should not be investigated by Justice Secretary Anabelle Rodriguez because she was allegedly a money collector for the then gubernatorial candidate.

"The Justice secretary was a funds collector for Calderon's campaign," the former legislator said. "She conducted fund-raising acts in her house," Rodriguez said in a radio interview.

The former Senate leader said he thinks the right thing to do is for the panel's former judges to analyze the matter and decide if they should name a SIP to investigate and determine of law violations were committed.

Calderon has denied that any illegal activities were committed in her campaign.

Reports Reveal NPP Also Diverted Funds

March 16, 2002
Copyright © 2002
The Associated Press. All rights reserved.  

SAN JUAN (AP) - The New Progressive Party (NPP)'s lukewarm criticisms to the alleged internal Popular Democratic Party (PDP) scheme to divert political funds with the intention of evading the Electoral Law were attributed Saturday to the fact that the collectivity did the same thing in favor of gubernatorial candidate Carlos Pesquera, according to published reports.

The newspaper quoted an anonymous source that affirms that the NPP scheme surpassed the million dollars.

Published reports reveal that State Elections Commission documents establish that at least four legislators used a pattern similar to the one attributed to the PDP.

The legislators that incurred in this type of campaign were Senate Minority Leader Kenneth McClintock, NPP Vice President Sen. Lucy Arce, and Reps. Iris Miriam Ruiz and Angel Cintron, present NPP secretary general.

All contributed $287,592 to Pesquera's campaign with ads developed by publicity agency Horacio Gavilan y Asociados.

Miranda Marin Proposed Candidates Placing Calderon Ads

March 16, 2002
Copyright © 2002
The Associated Press. All rights reserved.  

SAN JUAN (AP) - The idea of using the images of candidates to legislative posts and mayoral offices to promote the candidacy of now Gov. Sila Calderon was proposed by Caguas Mayor William Miranda Marin to Calderon and her then husband, Adolfo Krans, according to the official.

"I suggested on an occasion to Sila and Adolfo. . .that we do something like that to raise a little for the campaign, because the adversary had hit us hard. So that's what we did," Miranda Marin said in published reports.

According to State Elections Commission information, revealed in published reports, Miranda Marin contributed some $122,500 to ads in favor of Calderon.

The governor has emphatically denied knowing of an alleged scheme in the Popular Democratic Party to evade the Electoral Law, uncovered this week through media reports.

Ethics Committee Makes Rodriguez Hearing Transcripts Public

By Proviana Colon Diaz

March 15th, 2002
Copyright © 2002
WOW News. All rights reserved.  

The transcripts of the Senate Ethics Committee’s hearing against former Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Sen. Maribel Rodriguez prove that her son, Manuel Cruzado Rodriguez, testified under oath that he was given $10,000 in cash by now La Fortaleza Administrator Fulgencio Correa to pay for ads in favor of now Gov. Sila Calderon through his mother’s campaign committee.

Furthermore, his testimony proved, as complained by New Progressive Party Sen. Kenneth McClintock, that political donations were deposited in the former senator’s personal bank account because Cruzado Rodriguez "committed the error" of not registering it at the State Elections Commission (SEC).

Cruzado Rodriguez began his testimony by saying that he was in charge of running his mother’s political campaign. He was also her driver, her assistant, and her finance director.

As financial director, he was in charge of depositing all checks received for her campaign, pay for the advertisings, and all other campaign matters.

Upon Cruzado Rodriguez’s testimony that only one TV ad that he produced himself was posted, Senate Vice President Velda Gonzalez questioned why he had contracted Circulo Lintas advertising agency.

The Pandora’s Box that has led to the discovery of a scheme to post ads in favor of Calderon through several legislators’ campaigns was then open.

"Who hired the advertising agency that appears in the SEC reports?" quizzed Gonzalez.

"The PDP on a central level," Cruzado Rodriguez said.

"The senator’s ads were paid by the PDP central administration?" Gonzalez insisted.

"Senator, those ads are ads of Gov. Sila Maria Calderon," Cruzado Rodriguez said.

Later, NPP Sen. Lucy Arce asked where the $10,000 to pay for the ad came from.

Senate Ethics Committee Chairman Eudaldo Baez Galib then declared a recess.

But afterwards, Cruzado Rodriguez answered the question.

"You asked me a question, and I have to answer. Those $10,000 were handed to me in cash by Fulgencio Correa, current La Fortaleza administrator, at the PDP headquarters in Puerta de Tierra in San Juan," Cruzado Rodriguez said.

In regards to the non-registered bank account, Cruzado Rodriguez acknowledged that several accounts were opened.

During her run for the primaries, Rodriguez opened a political bank account registered as "Maribel 2000" at Banco Popular, where money from several personal loans to pay for the campaign were deposited.

However, a second bank account was opened at Doral Bank, which according to him, was intended to be registered as a political account, but was never done due to "his error."

Throughout his testimony, Cruzado Rodriguez blamed himself for the mistakes made in failing to register the account and accepting donations from contractors, as well as for falsifying his mother’s signature.

Cruzado Rodriguez, who served as a defense witness during the hearing, confessed to his mother’s attorney, Joaquin Monserrate, his "mistake" of not registering the account.

"It was my mistake, not registering it, and it is for that reason that I have my mother in this situation," Cruzado Rodriguez said.

It is in that account that all the checks of the now famous "Cena de Octavitas" were deposited.

Those checks and deposits were the source for McClintock’s complaint before the Ethics Committee against Rodriguez.

Questioned by Puerto Rican Independence Party Sen. Fernando Martin, Cruzado Rodriguez’s testimony turned contradictory when he alleged his mother had told him that accepting donations from contractors was illegal, but later alleged that he was not aware that receiving such donations was a violation to the Electoral Law.

It was Gonzalez again who discovered that Cruzado Rodriguez also committed a violation to the law when he falsified his mother’s signature.

Cruzado Rodriguez did not testify on the matter again as Baez Galib warned him that his testimony could be an admission to a crime and that he should seek the advice of an attorney.

The committee went to recess pending he find a lawyer. He never testified before the committee anew, as his mother quit her post the day after, leaving the committee without jurisdiction on the matter.

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