Got Integrity?

August 31, 2010

People with integrity admit their errors, apologize, and if they are holding public office they may even resign if they are caught in an illegal or compromising position. Dishonest and irresponsible people blame others, cover up, and/or lie.

During last evening's the KSPN News program, Attorney General Edward Buckingham responded to questions about his support for Covenant candidate Joe Camacho.   He claimed that the questionable event at the governor's mansion that he spomsored was not a campaign event, but a "welcome party" for his staff.  Never mind that the event in question was clearly publicized as a campaign event to get to know the candidate.  Never mind that this campaign event was listed as being "hosted by Attorney General Ed Buckingham and his office."  Never mind that "Family and Friends" of Joe Camacho, Covenant candidate for U.S. Congress, advertised the campaign event publicly on Facebook:

From Joseph Camacho Facebook Page (Taken down after the controversy was exposed.)

Never mind that the Camacho for Congress Facebook account announced the gathering as a public campaign event on Friday morning:
“the Attorney General and his staff are hosting our Candidate for U.S. Delegate Joseph Norita Camacho. The meet and greet will be at the CNMI Gov. Fitial’s residence in Gualo Rai. Please come and join us.”
Never mind that the AG's administrative assistant sent an email to all those in the Office of the Attorney General on Thursday, August 19, 2010, 10:30AM stating that the event was "gathering for Joe Camacho."  Not a "welcome party", not a "private dinner" as the AG claimed, but a "meet and greet for Candidate for U.S. Delegate Joseph Norita Camacho."

Here is the email:
Good Morning You All!

I am taking this upon myself to inform you all that our Attorney General, Edward T. Buckingham, and the Office of Attorney General as a whole, will be hosting a gathering for Joe Camacho on Saturday, August 28, 2010 starting at 4:30 p.m. at the Governor's House. As our AG has said, this gathering is not mandatory, but it would be nice to see our attorneys and staff come and enjoy the food, drinks and view and be able to socialize with other people throughout the night while this gathering is ongoing.

As a courtesy, I am humbly asking if you could inform me whether you are going to this gathering just so I can get a head count. I can be reached at either 664-2364 or my cell phone at ------------ or just email me.

thanks all so much. 
Frieda R. Demapan
Executive Assistant to the Attorney General
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
Saipan, MP 96950
Phone: (670) 664-2364 Fax: (670) 234-7016
Cellular Phone: (670)---------------
Never mind that this event was publicized as a public campaign event for Joe Camacho. The Attorney General was interviewed by KSPN2 and he denied it!  He shamelessly claimed it was a "welcome party" for his new staff!  What kind of welcome party is is disguised as a political event? One can only imagine how welcome the new AAGs feel knowing that they were invited by email to a meeting to meet a political candidate, and their boss went on TV to claim it was really a welcome party for them. Welcome to the CNMI!

If the Attorney General cannot be honest about his sponsorship of a political event, can the residents of the CNMI trust him to be uphold the integrity of an election?

Glen Hunter, and at least one other person, filed a complaint with the Office of the Public Auditor. The Marianas variety reported that an anonymous resident sent an email to Buckingham and to the paper:
In an e-mail to Buckingham, a copy of which was furnished to the Variety, a resident said: “I am writing this email under a [pen name] as you are in a position to inflict negative professional consequences upon me should I reveal my identity. It is such a shame that, with a simple phone call, your superiors could wield their political sword and cut the legs from under my family. I pray for the day when CNMI citizens can voice concerns and opinions without fear of political retribution. We live on a beautiful island, yet our leaders employ such ugly tactics.”

The sender said “it is an incredibly dirty move to consider cutting Mrs. [Frieda] Demapan’s salary and letting her take the fall. People see though these things quite easily.”

It was Demapan, the AG’s executive assistant, who e-mailed the criminal division’s prosecutors and staffers regarding the political event.

According to the resident, “It is offensive to the electorate when you, as the highest law enforcement official in the commonwealth, pretend that you did not violate CNMI election law when the violation is so blatant. It is laughable when you act as though you are immune from laws such as the Hatch Act, which, as I’m sure you’re aware, precludes those who manage federal funds from actively participating in political campaigns. If Joe Camacho wins, can you imagine the storm of litigation that will ensue?

“If I was an opposing candidate, I would have lawyered up the second I heard that you were asserting yourself in the campaign in your capacity as the AG. You have used your position to influence this election. You commission your AAG’s to monitor each polling location to ensure that no irregularities occur, yet your office hosted a political rally for one of the candidates. You have tainted the election, and the public will have little confidence in the outcome as a result.”

According to the resident, “If the opposing candidates are smart, they will have already filed complaints with the Federal Election Commission. You framed the issue in the press as a mandatory v. non-mandatory event for your staff, but that’s not the point. The operative question is whether you used your title to further a candidate’s campaign. The answer is unequivocally yes. You may not ‘agree with some of the concerns that have been raised,’ but don’t fool yourself, you know deep down these concerns are legitimate.”

Here is the contact information for the Office of the Public Auditor:
Michael Pai
Public Auditor
PO BOX 501399
Saipan, MP 96950
Phone: (670) 322-6481
Fax: (670) 322-7812

Here is the contact information for the FBI:
FBI Saipan Resident Agency
MHII Building #202
Marina Heights Business Park
Saipan, MP 96950
(670) 322-6934


Anonymous said...

I think you mean a "compromising position."

Wendy said...

Anonymous 7:05 Yes, thank you so much!

Anonymous said...

Perhaps this gathering had a dual function, as is quite common in small towns.

Yes, it was a pocket meeting, for officemates to get to know a candidate and let him become familiar with their issues.

It may also have been an occasion for the office colleagues to get together on a social basis at a nice venue, including a welcome to the newcomers.

If the e-mail by Mrs. Frieda Demapan was in support of this camaraderie-building function, then it likely did not run afoul of any election laws. No other government funds, time, or equipment was used in violation of 1 CMC § 8534(a), and the name of the OAG was not used to endorse a candidate in violation of 1 CMC § 6705(a) (formerly 1 CMC § 6705(d) prior to enactment of Pub. L. 15-52, § 3).

Hatch Act employees (assuming some of the OAG prosecutors are paid with federal funds) still retain the right to take political positions and support political candidates.

Exercise of First Amendment civil rights by those employees does not constitute "Interference by administrative employees of Federal, State, or Territorial Governments" in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 595.

While perhaps not meeting the high standards of circumspection practiced by prior CNMI Attorneys General, the Honorable Edward T. Buckingham has apologized to any who were offeded, and it would be the best for the community to move on rather than become mired down in another Marianas Variety-fueled contretemps.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 9:57

This AG is not "honorable."

Yes, the old CNMI saying, "move on." That just means sweep all improprieties under the rug, pretend everything is "oh so nice", let the other candidates suck it up, screw the voters, and let all government violators, whether the governor, AG, or anyone else, be excused to commit more offenses.

Don't blame the Variety for covering the offenses and questionable acts of government officials. They should be applauded.

So you think this would fly in California, New York or Florida? Not a chance.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 9:57

Your proposal suggests that the CNMI really should stand for "Crime Never Mind It!"

got some land in the swamp to sell said...


Are you on crack? You expect us to buy that pathetic made up story?

"Yes, it was a pocket meeting, for officemates to get to know a candidate and let him become familiar with their issues."

If so, why not invite the current U.S. Delegate to know the issues? What the he** does Camacho know?

"It may also have been an occasion for the office colleagues to get together on a social basis at a nice venue, including a welcome to the newcomers."

Yeah? well then why didn't Demapan send an email saying, "Come to the welcome party for the new AAGs. What the people in the AGO talk in code? Yeah, we believe all this back tracking bs. NOT!

Anonymous said...

Camacho knows how to muscle his way to the front of a buffet line!

Anonymous said...

What does anyone expect from someone who was prosecuting traffic cases and then moved up to become attorney general?

This guy is not just incompetent, he is also a liar.

Anonymous said...

'It is time to turn the page.'

. . . President Obama [on Iraq]

Beware unintended consequences. An obsessive outspoken focus on the "misdeeds" of Camacho and Bucky may result in a sympathy vote rebound for Joe.

Don't forget the last election. Who on these blogs correctly predicted Fitial's re-election?

There is no run-off this time. That is something our legislature should fix before the 2012 election. All they need to do is add the words "and Delegate to Congress" after the language about the Governor.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 11:29

No one should "turn the page" on corruption or illegalities. Ignoring corruption and illegalities simply spread it. It needs to end. Deal with it, don't ignore it.

Sympathy rebound? Ridiculous!

Last election? The one where many claim that jobs were promised in exchange for votes?

Anonymous said...

> The one where many claim that jobs were promised in exchange for votes?

You must be new here.

Anonymous said...

Touché. Time to go to lunch. Talk to you tomorrow. :-)

The Saipan Blogger said...

Zaldy Dandan predicted he would win.

Anonymous said...

Camacho will not be the hungriest member in the congress... he's big enough to not eat the whole months