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Governor: PDP Followed Election Law, Arce, McClintock File SEC Motions, Diaz Saldaña A Blue Ribbon No-Show, Dont Count CRB Out, Fortaleza Wants Pesquera In Talks, NPP Cites July 25 Irregularities
Governor: SEC President Decision Is His Interpretation
By Raquel Velazquez of WOW News
JULY 31, 2002
Gov. Sila Calderon reacted unvaryingly to the decision of SEC president, Aurelio Gracia Morales, to hand over 16 out of 19 case files to Justice Secretary Anabelle Rodriguez on bipartisan legislators alleged to have engaged in illegal practices construed as electoral law violations, by stating she is " clear, and certain that we (Popular Democratic Party) followed procedures according to the Electoral Law."
"I am the only governor that has ever proposed total reform on campaign financing in Puerto Rico," expressed Calderon during a press conference on Tuesday after completing an inspection visit of four metro area public schools to ensure their readiness for the start of the new academic year August 5.
"This is not about corruption which is stealing money from the people of Puerto Rico. We are talking about interpretation of the Electoral Law. The SEC president made an interpretation and believes it requires further evaluation from the Justice Secretary and I respect that," said the chief executive who added that the Justice secretary will evaluate the matter "with the same peace and dedication she has shown to the people of Puerto Rico in whatever issue referred to her."
The governor emphasized that she had asked for this campaign financing audit calling it one of her "programmed commitments" and feels confident that we have a Justice secretary (Rodriguez) that is very serious, steadfast and does her work with impeccable honesty."
Sen. Arce Files Motion To SEC
JULY 31, 2002
SAN JUAN (AP) NPP Sen. Lucy Arce asked State Electoral Committee (SEC) president Aurelio Gracia Morales on Wednesday to paralyze the delivery of her case to the Justice Department for investigation into he alleged violation of the Electoral Law.
After indicating that "there was no intention or premeditation of infringing the law or regulations," Arce requested Gracia reconsider the so-called "grave deficiency" finding of the audit into on her last election campaign.
"I respectfully submitted a letter to the SEC president to reconsider the allegations of electoral law violations and the case to the Department of Justice, since he considers the finding does not constitute a serious deficiency," said Arce in a press release.
According to Arce, all earnings and expenditures from her campaign were duly reported through sworn statements and monthly reports required by the SEC prior to the SEC audit.
"If the intention to violate the law or regulations had existed, we would not have included the information in the corresponding reports." In the letter, she also expressed to the SEC president that she would be available to the committee to cooperate and to submit any additional information required so that this matter is made clear to the people.
Arce also met with NPP Sen. Kenneth McClintock, who made a similar request to Gracia Morales.
McClintock Files Reconsideration Motion Before The SEC
JULY 30, 2002
SAN JUAN (AP) New Progressive Party (NPP) Sen. Kenneth McClintock asked the State Elections Commission (SEC) President Aurelio Gracia Morales on Tuesday to halt the referral of his case to the Justice Department for alleged investigation into his violations of the Electoral Law.
The legislator sent a reconsideration motion to explain three of the findings which prompted the referral.
"We are confident that once Judge Gracia evaluates the reconsideration motion there will be nothing to be referred to the Justice department," the legislator said.
The NPP minority leader indicated that the findings in his report are the result of a "different interpretation", almost coinciding with Gov. Sila Calderons statements regarding the conclusion of the audit report.
One of the findings, McClintock said, is related reimbursement made through checks and cash payments.
"You cannot purchase a plane ticket on the Internet with a check, fast foods does not accept a check in payment for food for your campaign team. That is why we are obliged to use credit cards or cash and are reimbursed by the campaign committee," the legislator said.
The senator is accused of allegedly making illegal transfer of funds to former senator Luisa Lebrons political campaign by paying for her plane ticket to participate in the Democratic National Convention.
Regarding this finding, McClintock said the payment "does not constitute an illegal transfer of funds to the former senators campaign, since her electoral campaign did not receive direct benefit from the expense."
Diaz Saldaña Says He Wont Show Up At Blue Ribbon Committee
JULY 29, 2002
SAN JUAN (AP) Without much explanation, Commonwealth Comptroller Manuel Diaz Saldaña insisted that he wont show up at the meeting that the Independent Citizens Committee for the Investigation of Government Transactionsalso known as the Blue Ribbon Committeehas set for Aug. 8.
Diaz Saldaña told reporters that he wont reveal the reasons that he gave to Committee Executive Director Brenda Leon to justify his decision.
"I wont show up. It is now up the committee to make the decisions that they deem pertinent," said Diaz Saldaña during a press conference on Monday when he also disclosed a ninth report on alleged irregularities at the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority.
Diaz Saldaña was summoned by the Blue Ribbon Committee for alleged irregularities that took place while he was Treasury secretary during the administration of former Gov. Pedro Rossello.
Romero Barcelo Leaves Door Open For His Possible Return
JULY 28, 2002
PONCE (AP) - Former Gov. Carlos Romero Barcelo said on Sunday that he will have an active role in the next general elections, whether it is as an advisor or as a leading man within the New Progressive Party (NPP).
With this said, Romero Barcelo has left the door open for a possible comeback as a political candidate.
"Nobody knows the intricacies of the status issue and plebiscites as well as I do. I believe one should never do without that experience," said the also former resident commissioner during a radio interview.
When asked if he saw himself more as an advisor than as a candidate, he said "whichever is necessary. It depends on the moment."
Following his loss to Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila in the 2000 general elections, several people within the NPP urged Romero Barcelo to remain as an advisor and not to run for an elective position again.
On the other hand, Romero Barcelo defended the leadership qualities of NPP President Carlos Pesquera, who he says is prepared to deal with the current situation in which Gov. Sila Calderon is trying to seek consensus to discuss the status issue in Puerto Rico.
"Sila Calderon is the one who has shown that she knows nothing about government," Romero Barcelo said.
Fortaleza Insists On Asking Pesquera To Sit And Talk
JULY 27, 2002
SAN JUAN (AP) Chief of Staff Cesar Miranda renewed his invitation Friday to New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos Pesquera to discuss his status proposals in a meeting with Gov. Sila Calderon and Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) President Ruben Berrios.
Miranda repeated that the governor is available to discuss the six-phase plan that Pesquera made public this week as his proposal to seek resolution to this century-old debate.
"The governor is completely open to listening to the proposal. As she said in her message, 'nothing will be ruled out, for Puerto Rico nothing will be ruled out," the official said.
Nevertheless, the call was once again rejected by Pesquera.
"They have emphasized in meetings, while drinking coffee, in committees. . .and the committees have demonstrated, particularly Calderons, that they have not resolved the problem," said the annexationist leader.
As he traveled to the area where the statehood supporters will congregate this Saturday to commemorate the birthday of Jose Celso Barbosa, Pesquera called upon his Popular Democratic Party and PIP counterparts to come [to the event] and become familiar with his ideas publicly.
He insisted that the best way to handle the issue is to discuss it directly with the federal government.
Prior to all of this, the governor had said the Puerto Rican political leadership must be in agreement and collectively fine tune the strategies they will take to Washington.
Meanwhile, Miranda sees it as an incentive and describes it as good that Pesquera is suggesting status alternatives.
He reiterated, however, that the best thing the three political leaders can do is debate these ideas on a personal level, in the meeting proposed by the governor.
"This dialogue will enrich alternatives for Puerto Rico and be truly beneficial. We must not rule out this opportunity and I believe that Pesquera should not deny this occasion for Puerto Rican statehooders," said the chief of staff.
Miranda reiterated that the governor has been clear in her effort to seek consensus and a fair discussion between the three ideologies.
He said the process is not intended to take political advantage but only a favorable level that would enable statehood, commonwealth and independence supporters to have viable alternatives to offer their followers.
NPP Cites July 25 Ceremony Irregularities To Ethics
JULY 26, 2002
SAN JUAN (AP) Two New Progressive Party (NPP) legislators have requested Government Ethics Office (GEO) Executive Director Hiram Morales Lugo to investigate the alleged misuse of funds and public resources in the official ceremonies commemorating Constitution Day.
According to Reps. Albita Rivera and Melinda Romero, the Thursday celebration "constituted excessive and illegal use of funds and public property to praise the image" of the governor and president of the Popular Democratic Party (PDP), Sila Calderon.
They added that the activity also served to promote the ideological formula that the PDP defends and to supposedly attack the political opposition.
In a letter they sent Friday to the GEO director, the legislators alleged that during the assembly of commonwealth supporters, political catchphrases were used and the governor attacked the NPP in her message.
They did not define, however, what expressions made by the chief executive they considered an attack.
In her speech Thursday, Calderon reiterated her strong condemnation of government corruption and emphasized her disdain for officials who, independent of their political affiliation, commit these undesirable practices.
In their letter, Rivera and Romero also protested the use of PDP flags among the public and organizers who distributed red and yellow flags, which were the colors of Calderons campaign.
They also complained about the sale of objects that alluded to the PDP during the activity and the alleged use of public resources in the preparation and mobilization of the ceremonies in which public officials also participated.