September 2, 2010

Kilili Campaign Begins Legal Action on AG-Gate
A Press Release From U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan:

(Saipan, MP) – The Committee to Elect Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan on Sept. 2, 2010 took its first legal action in response to partisan political activity in potential violation of Commonwealth law by CNMI Attorney General Ed Buckingham. The Committee filed an Open Government Act request with the office of the Attorney General to obtain all e-mails, phone logs, and other communications or records of communications that occurred, using government resources, to arrange any event in support of a candidate for public office, Joe Camacho, currently of the Covenant Party.

Buckingham has made a public admission that one event for the benefit of Camacho, arranged and attended by Buckingham and his office staff, occurred on Saturday, August 28, 2010, at Governor Benigno Fitial’s mansion.

The Kilili Committee also asked for all records of government funds used in support of these events, including paid staff time and the costs of providing security, utilities, furnishings, or equipment at the Fitial mansion or other premises. The names of all CNMI Government employees who were invited or have attended were also demanded.

Kilili Campaign First Vice Chair, Jesus San Nicholas, made the following statement today announcing the Open Government Act request:

“The Campaign to Elect Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan is today filing an Open Government Act request for all records of activities by CNMI government employees, using CNMI government time or resources, in support of a candidate for the Federal office of Delegate to the United States Congress.

“Under the requirements of the Open Government Act, the Attorney General has 10 days in which to reply.

“As you know, on August 26th, one of the candidates in the November 2nd election for a seat in the United States Congress advertised on his campaign website and on his campaign Facebook page that ‘Attorney General Ed Buckingham’ and the office of the Attorney General would be hosting a campaign event in the candidate’s behalf at the Governor’s residence.

“Attorney General Buckingham has confirmed, in response to inquiries by the Marianas Variety, the Saipan Tribune, and television station KSPN, that this event did occur. Video of the event exists; and at least one e-mail invitation has emerged, which was apparently produced using government time and resources.

“Any use of government resources to arrange or support partisan political activity is a violation of Commonwealth law. Any person who made use of government resources in this way would be liable for prosecution. Of course, when the violation occurs within the office of the Attorney General, this raises the question of who could conduct the prosecution.

“More important than any individual’s violation of Commonwealth law that has occurred is the shadow that this event throws over the November 2nd Federal election. The Attorney General is responsible by law for providing advice and counsel to the Commonwealth Election Commission. The Attorney General also has a statutory role in the monitoring of polling places and the counting of ballots.

“Therefore, any partisan political activity by the Attorney General, his office, or staff, any alignment of the Attorney General with one particular candidate, even any perception of favoritism, jeopardizes the credibility of the Attorney General and the capacity of his office to discharge its legal responsibilities in support of the November 2nd election.

“In closing, I would like to underscore how seriously we view this situation.

“The people of the Commonwealth exercised our inherent right to self-government, when we voted to approve the Covenant some 35 years ago.

“The fundamental act of self-government is the vote.

“Any attack on the integrity of the vote or the election is an attack on our Covenant and on our right of self-government and will not be tolerated.

“As we are doing today, the Campaign to Elect Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan will continue to take whatever actions are necessary to protect the public interest, our Covenant, and our right to self-government.”

# # #

This message is approved and authorized by Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan
Prepared and paid for by Committee to Elect Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan
P.O. Box 502924, Saipan, MP 96950

Kilili is right on

Others File Complaints

Concerned U.S. citizens and residents of the CNMI have filed complaints against U.S. Attorney Edward Buckingham, from Hatch Act Violation Complaints to complaint with federal officials and the Office of the Public Auditor.

The Saipan Tribune reported that Democratic candidate for U.S. Delegate former lt. governor Jesse Borja also filed a complaint and requested a complete investigation of the OAG and Buckingham. The newspaper reported:
The Committee to Elect Jesse Borja lodged a formal complaint with OPA, the Commonwealth Election Commission and the OAG against Buckingham and the OAG “for serious violations of the Commonwealth Election Law, violations of the Commonwealth Government Ethics Law, and perhaps other violations of local and federal law and regulation.”

Roy M. Pangelinan, chair of the committee, confirmed filing the two-page complaint yesterday.

“We will be sending a copy to the Federal Election Commission, too,” he told Saipan Tribune in a phone interview.

The committee said the invitation and the event itself are both clear violations of the Commonwealth election law.
The Marianas Variety reported that former Rep. Tina Sablan and CNMI resident, Glen Hunter also filed complaints:
In an e-mail to the Variety, Hunter said: “I formally filed a complaint with OPA and I am in the process of filing one with the [Federal Election Commission] and reporting my concerns to the local” U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Hunter said he is “far from without fault and in filing [the] report I do not feel like I am holier than anyone else. [But] I would like to encourage everyone to please speak out.”

“Elections are a fundamental part of our democracy and should be handled with utmost care. Those in charge of overseeing the elections should be held to a much higher standard and should at…least follow the rule of law and when in doubt err on the conservative side. I hope that the [assistant attorneys general will] come forward and impress on [Buckingham] the need for the AGO to step down from having any further involvement in this election,” Hunter said.

The House approved the controversial bill that would survey voters' position on the DOI recommendation on the status of foreign workers. Rep. Diego Benavente (R-Saipan) questioned the loaded opening statement, which falsely claimed that the DOI did not consult with Governor Fitial before issuing the report.  Benevente wanted the opening statement removed.  The Saipan Tribune reported:
Benavente and other members said they are not against conducting an exit poll, but they want the opening statement to be deleted, saying it is misleading, loaded, and shows no neutrality.

“This is a trick to get more people to vote against giving improved status to foreign workers. Even those who want to vote yes on the question of whether they agree or not on the Interior recommendation will be tricked by the opening statement. This is unfair not only to the voters but also to the foreign workers,” Benavente told Saipan Tribune.

His written floor amendment to delete this section was defeated on a 17-2 vote.

...Benavente said he was in Washington, D.C. where Interior Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs Tony Babauta told a congressional hearing that the Office of Insular Affairs consulted with the governor.

Fitial has been saying that he or the CNMI government was not consulted.
Others are also questioning the validity of the poll. The Saipan Tribune reported:
Former representative Tina Sablan, when asked for comment, said the opening to the question is “biased and inaccurate, and should not be ramrodded into our election law or imposed upon voters on Election Day.”

“If I, as a voter, choose not to participate in this nonbinding exit poll, it would be at least in part because I disagree with the premise that the governor was not consulted. He most certainly was consulted, on many documented occasions, during the preparation of the DOI report. Unfortunately, on many documented occasions, the governor refused to share information and would not cooperate with federal authorities,” she said.

Sablan also said the proposed question refers to multiple options that are cited in the DOI report.

“What if a voter agrees with only one of the options for status, but not the others? What if the voter believes that long-term status should be granted, but not the options mentioned? If I, as a voter, choose not to participate in this nonbinding exit poll, it will also be at least in part because the question itself is poorly drafted and confusing, and there is no way for me to answer accurately, or meaningfully. I do not believe that there is any interest in this administration or in the House in truly seeking the sentiments of the people, let alone in asking neutral questions on the issue of status for guest workers,” she said.

She said the exit poll results will be exploited to favor political agendas and conclusions that are already established.

“Why would I want to participate in that?” she asked.
See also this previous post, Flawed Exit Survey.

I personally witnessed election fraud in the CNMI. In fact, I filed a complaint with the FBI once.  It seems election fraud was accepted, or at least expected.  The violations were always swept under the rug -- votes being bought, the exchange of jobs for votes, and government personnel conducting campaign activity during working hours using government equipment. Nothing was ever done. But this federal election is different. Violators will be prosecuted.  Wait and see.


the teacher said...

Exit poll, what a crock, as stated on the MV, a blog poll on Wendy's web page would have alot more validity than a Covenant exit poll, besides who might count such a poll?

The Saipan Blogger said...

The CNMI leaders should make their own recommendations. I saw the governor testify before Congress last February and he was given all the time he wanted to explain his position. Any other elected leader from the CNMI would be given the same respect. In fact, anyone has the right to participate in this process. Anyone can write a letter to the president or any member of congress.