Election-Gate

September 7, 2010

And the saga continues.  The Office of the Public Auditor is "investigating" the actions of  the Attorney General and his office in hosting a campaign for Covenant candidate Joseph Camacho. The Saipan Tribune reported:
Buckingham and the OAG hosted Camacho's campaign gathering held at Gov. Benigno R. Fitial's private residence in Gualo Rai on Aug. 28.

“OPA is undertaking an investigation into the substance of the complaints. Please let this letter serve as a notice and invitation to respond or present information, including the names of witnesses you wish to have interviewed,” Pai told Buckingham in a Sept. 3 letter, a copy of which was obtained yesterday.

Pai gave Buckingham until Sept. 10, 2010, to respond.
How is asking the offending office to provide witnesses an impartial investigation? Wouldn't it make more sense for the OPA to interview separately and quickly everyone in the office? The OPA is seriously asking WHO the AG wants interviewed?

The Tribune stated:
Pai said the complaints allege criminal violations of the CNMI Election Reform Act of 2000, and the Commonwealth Ethics Code Act of 1992.

“Specifically, each complaint alleges that a party hosted by you and the OAG on behalf of Joseph N. Camacho, a candidate for delegate to the United States House of Representatives, violated both the Election and Ethics Acts,” Pai told Buckingham.

U.S. Congressman Gregorio (Kilili) Sablan issued a statement concerning the improper actions of the OAG:
“The integrity of the election for delegate to the U.S. Congress and the right of self-government embodied in the Covenant have been threatened by the apparent involvement of the Office of the Attorney General in partisan political activities in support of a candidate in the election.

“The reported recusal of Attorney General Buckingham alone and the reported selection by Governor Fitial of another member of the Office of the Attorney General to oversee the election is an insufficient and premature response.

“In the first place, the Kilili for Congress campaign has not seen or received any document from the attorney general or the governor regarding the reported recusal and appointment of alternative counsel. An e-mail to the press does not constitute an official or credible action by the attorney general or the governor.

“Second, it is not the decision of the attorney general or the governor whether the election has been compromised by their action. It is up to the Commonwealth Election Commission, the public auditor, federal authorities, and others to make that determination and to decide what remedies are appropriate.

“Third, the ethical violations, violations of law, and threat to the integrity of the election are not confined to the attorney general himself. As Mr. Buckingham is reported to have said: ‘the facts of the matter, when known, will exonerate me and the Office of the Attorney General.’ By Mr. Buckingham’s own admission, therefore, it is the entire office and everyone employed there whose involvement is in question.

“Fourth, the potential ethical violations, violations of law, and threat to self-government are not confined to the Office of the Attorney General. The Covenant Party candidate has advertised a series of campaign events sponsored by and, potentially, employing the offices and government resources controlled by other members of the Fitial administration. The Kilili for Congress campaign did not limit its request for information to the Office of the Attorney General, but asked for ‘all correspondence…that refer or relate in any way to [Covenant Party] candidate [Joseph N.] Camacho.’

“Fifth, until such time as the Kilili for Congress campaign’s Open Government Act request has been responded to and the evidence derived from that request has been fully evaluated by the Kilili for Congress campaign, it is premature to speculate on the extent of further action or any remedies that will be required.

“One thing is certain: if the winner of the Nov. 2nd election goes to Congress with any question as to his legitimate election, it will be extremely difficult for that person to find acceptance by other members of Congress or to achieve anything of benefit for the people of the Northern Mariana Islands.

“The Kilili for Congress Campaign remains committed to take whatever actions are necessary to secure the integrity of the election and to protect the ability of the people of the Northern Mariana Islands to exercise their right of self-government.”

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

“One thing is certain: if the winner of the Nov. 2nd election goes to Congress with any question as to his legitimate election, it will be extremely difficult for that person to find acceptance by other members of Congress or to achieve anything of benefit for the people of the Northern Mariana Islands.

“The Kilili for Congress Campaign remains committed to take whatever actions are necessary to secure the integrity of the election and to protect the ability of the people of the Northern Mariana Islands to exercise their right of self-government.”


Kilili is overplaying his hand, and seems determined to make a “federal case” out of Buckingham's inexperienced error. However, as former Executive Director of the Commonwealth Election Commission (CEC), Kilili knows or should know that the legal responsibility for ensuring a just and fair election rests on the CEC alone, not the OAG.

Attorneys are merely advisors. The Commissioners can think for themselves.

Our first Delegate election went quite well in 2008 thanks to CEC Chairwoman Frances Sablan and the other hard-working Commissioners, a majority of whom still hold the same positions.

Or does Kilili know something about his initial election that the rest of us don't?

Stop playing politics with our election officials!

Anonymous said...

Who are the attorneys for the Kilili for Congress Campaign?

Why has there been no reporting about the level of donations to this campaign, and who the key contributors are?

Ditto for Camacho, Borja, and Babauta. This is all public information.

These guys are seeking to represent us, but aren't being transparent at all. If we await the Federal Election Commission disclosure deadlines, the race may be over.

Who is hiding what?

Anonymous said...

Who are the attorneys for the Kilili for Congress Campaign?

Who are the contributors?

Ditto for Camacho, Borja, and Babauta.

These guys are seeking to represent us, and should model transparency. Who is paying for what?

If we have to wait for Federal Election Commission disclosure deadlines, the race may be over.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 8:18 Such propaganda and so typical of a blind Fitial follower. You are so transparent in your attempt to deflect the outlandish improprieties of the OAG and every other Fitial appointee, cabinet member, and government official who sponsored a Camacho campaign on government time.

Stop playing politics? Didn't you mean to say please ignore the illegal activities of Fitial appointees and do as we do -pretend nothing is wrong?

I may not always agree with Kilili, but he has integrity and the best interest of the CNMI at heart.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 8:19

Ask. So ridiculous!

Wendy said...

Forgot something anonymous 8:18- violating the Hatch Act is a federal violation.

Anonymous said...

Resign Bucky!

Anonymous said...

I may not always agree with Bucky, but his bumbling is usually well intentioned, and he is an ardent supporter of President Barack H. Obama.

While Edward T. Buckingham has the age (62) and length of service (since 2003, plus education credits) to retire, he should not be put out to pasture until there is someone on the scene equally or better qualified who is willing and able to take the job.

Joseph J. N. Camacho? Jesus C. Borja? Timothy H. Bellas? Nancy J. Gottfried? Jane E. Mack?

Maybe we need to amend the law and raise the salary of the next AG to match that of a Superior Court Associate Judge, to attract a suitable replacement. Legislature? Bar Association? Social activists? Blog commenters?

The Saipan Blogger said...

http://www.opensecrets.org/ has the contributions of everyone over $200, the minimum amount that requires reporting a name.

Anonymous said...

I hope everyone else sees right through the AG nonsense.

OPA basically told them what they found out and how he could easily deal with it = step aside and let the OPA oversee the election.

That letter was sent out on Friday to Buckingham. Instead of taking the opportunity to have the OPA handle the election with CEC, Buckingham had Fitial nominate Meaghan and then he stepped aside himself. This keeps the election in the AGO's dirty hands.

What are they hiding? Are they afraid of OPA seeing something that isn't right? Are they afraid that things will turn up? Are they currently scrambling to cover things and destroy evidence? They must know full well that the OPA will find that the AGO can not oversee this election.

The AG has often times complained that his office is undermanned and overworked. Why not step out of the massive job of the elections? Why hang on to it? Look at all the recent blotched cases in court. I think it is very suspicious that they are opting to maintain a tie with this upcoming election.

Someone needs to issue a cease and desist order to get the AGO as far away from CEC as possible while a thorough investigation is done. Computers need to be checked and phone logs analyzed.

It is too late to go back to the last election. So many issues went unchallenged. We can however be more vigilant in this and other upcoming ones.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 10:04

I agree that Buckingham should resign or retire. He is a terrible attorney! He is not well-intentioned. More like an apologist, Fitial lackey, yes-man, self-serving. He cares more about Fitial's political agenda than the law OR the people of the CNMI. He proved this with massage-gate, parole-gate, furlough-gate, gun-gate and now election-gate. Even the AAGs left the OAG in force after he became AG. That is telling also.

His support for Obama is irrelevant.

There should be no discussion of a raise in salary for the AG when there are payless pay days. Only an out-of-touch, self-serving Froilan-type would demand more money for himself in these difficult times.

Captain said...

It seems Wendy, you are drawing a bunch of Fitial brown nose uneducated follower this early, on this article.
I wonder if these people actually believe what they are saying or were told to say it.
And yes it is a Fed crime!! And it seems as always, the solution, for prevention, is to raise the pay or the fees instead of raising the qualifications.
This AG did not do this on his own, I am sure that he was asked (told)by Fitial to do this. As in everything Fitial does, he remains "clean" and has somebody else take the "fall"
Why not have an elected AG? (but that would become political also)
Until the people stop voting for family and vote for qualifications nothing will change.
Look, again, what they have put back in office this last time.
They talk now (like prior to the all election) is not to elect any of these people again.
But, as is the case over the years, it will all be forgotten after many go to the pols with a hangover from drinking the free beer from the candidates the night before.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10:26, the OAG does not "oversee" elections. That job has belonged and does belong to the Commonwealth Election Commission, overseeing the work of temporary and full-time staff, and monitored by observers from all parties. The CEC attorney may occasionally provide advice when requested, but substantive action the CEC takes is by an on-the-record vote.

Wendy, no one will demand anything.

They will simply decline to serve under the current conditions.

Angelo, while the donor look-up website, http://www.opensecrets.org/indivs/index.php (type in zip 96950) is eye-opening, it is sorely out of date because of the delayed FEC reporting deadlines.

We should demand greater transparency from our candidates, or they should challenge each other to volunteer it.

Who is financially supporting Camacho?!

Wendy said...

Anonymous 11:21

Who is financially supporting Camacho? Seriously? Looks like the tax payers are, and that includes anyone who pays federal taxes. (I do not appreciate this and have filed a complaint.)

Who contributed or sponsored a Camacho campaign activity? An individual or individuals representing: The Office of Indigenous Affairs, the Office of Carolinian Affairs, the Governor's Office, the Rota Mayor's Office, the Rota Municipal Council, the Office of the Attorney General, the DPS, Aging Office, Public Works, Dept. of Commerce, Commonwealth Council on Arts and Culture, Women's Affairs Office, Dept. Public Lands, CUC< Division of Fish and Wildlife, and all of the government offices and workers listed on the Camacho Campaign page on facebook that I outlined in this post: Not Buying That This is Okay.

Captain said...

It would seem that the complainants along with Kilili's OGR should be expanded to cover these other agencies that Wendy just mentioned.
If for no other reason than to "pull" some of Fitial and his Mafia's teeth. If the Feds get involved, there may not be anything done before the election, but as in the Abrimoff case(s) it may take some time but this possibly could expand into a huge shake up and jail time for many. Possibly even the Gov. (hopefully)and the rest of his Carolinian Mafia.
Maybe Kilili can start the ball rolling on this also. If he makes a complaint it has a lot more weight initially than any of us doing it. But as many as possible should act.
It is too bad that it can't be done by e-mail, or can it??

Anonymous said...

Based on the published reported contributions so far, and the Marianas Variety poll, the smart money is on Kilili.

Let us hope he does not blow his lead by falling into the trap of “screaming” at the Election Commission or even at clumsy Bucky, thereby appearing as desperate or “running scared.”

Notably, Babauta has remained above the fray.

Greg is our elected Congressman, our voice of reason in Washington, and needs to continue to look and act the part.

Politics as usual or anti-Fitialite rants play into the hands of the “throw the bums out” mood sweeping the country that is likely to remove the Democrats from control of the U.S. House of Representatives this Fall.

Fortunately, Fitial and Camacho have no ties to the Tea Party. An endorsement by Sarah Palin would really shake things up!

Anonymous said...

Someone screencap this before the Saipan Tribune corrects it, presumably tomorrow:

http://www.saipantribune.com/newsstory.aspx?cat=1&newsID=102879

OPA also offered to provide legal counsel to the Election Commission “to remove any further appearance of impartiality in the upcoming election.”

Anonymous said...

What is interesting, in Guam, The Lt.Gov. Cruz, wife appeared and made comments on an endorsement for another candidate at a gathering and she is being "looked" at for breaking Guams' election law (mini hatch act)
All this because she works at the Govt.hospital. She had nothing to do about the "gathering" only showed up as an endorsement for the candidate in an unofficial capacity.

Anonymous said...

She gave a speech.

How big a gathering must an event be to violate the respective Guam and CNMI laws?