Liar, Liar?

May 22, 2011

Last week the Marianas Variety published a story stating that CNMI Attorney General Edward Buckingham fired and then rehired Chief Prosecutor Michael Ernest.  The AG denied that he fired Ernest.

Today the Variety has a story quoted a source who states that Buckingham did indeed force Ernest to resign on May 17th. The newspaper states:
“Ernest did resign in lieu of being terminated. Buckingham then offered the position of chief to several other members of the criminal division, all of whom declined. On [May 18], after being criticized by other attorneys in the office, Buckingham offered Ernest his job back. Ernest accepted the position back later in the day,” the source said.

The source added that the assistant attorneys general did not threaten to resign if Ernest was not rehired, as earlier reported by the Variety.

“The attitude of the criminal division attorneys regarding Ernest’s termination was one of fear for their own jobs, not anger about losing Mr. Ernest as their chief.

“These facts can be confirmed by members of the criminal division. Everyone is scared to tell the truth because the AG will terminate them for exposing his lies to the public,” the source said.

“If the highest legal officer is willing to lie to the public about petty internal conflicts, he is willing to lie to the public about anything,” the source added.
The story points out that 11 assistant attorneys have resigned or been fired since Buckingham took the position of Attorney General and “has burned through at least nine chiefs of the civil and criminal divisions. Most resignations occur only under threat of termination by [Buckingham] himself.”

Who needs a liar as an Attorney General? Who needs a law breaker as an Attorney General? He stood on the wrong side of the law during massage-gate and he blatantly violated federal election law during election-gate.  Yet, somehow got away with it. Sickening.

The problem is not just the questionable acts of the Attorney General, but the lack of courage of the assistant attorneys. I have to wonder what is so great about a job that a person would cover up for a boss who is a liar.  Why would any employee, especially an attorney, protect the improper behavior of his/her boss especially when that boss holds a position of power and authority?  If something corrupt or questionable is happening at my workplace I would expose it, regardless of threats or retaliatory actions.  To do otherwise is to condone the inappropriate behavior.  The people within the Office of the Attorney General should be the torch bearers of justice, and yet they remain silent about lies. Not cool.


Anonymous said...

Fitial and his AG are on the same page. They are both lias and untrustworthy. BOTH have to go!

Anonymous said...

It's easy to judge AAGs from the sidelines for their silence, but the market for lawyers right now is very bad. Many of the AAGs are new graduates in a very tight market, some have families of their own that they are responsible for. When push comes to shove, it is the rare person who puts principle over survival. Maybe you're one of them, but you seem to be glossing over some very real economic realities.

Wendy said...

I would like to think that anyone who is an attorney would have strong ethics, especially those whose salaries are paid by taxpayers. I understand economic concerns, but what is more important? Someone must have the moral fiber and backbone to step forward for the sake of the people. It seems if there is a question of threats or retaliation that one of the AAGs could file a complaint with the US DOL or USAGO and keep their job, but also expose the truth.

Wendy said...

One more thing -the OAG is funded in part with federal funds. If there is anything going on the AAGs could and SHOULD speak to someone from the USDOJ.

Anonymous said...

I think that not many people are trusting the Feds right now. Look back, they did not do anything about the fiasco during the elections, they did not do anything about the threats to Sayed, they never did anything about Fitial pulling his masseuse out of jail.
There are so many other things that they have not done anything about.
If one or more of these AAG's filed a complaint they would be thrown under the bus and they could not afford to survive until a court case came about regarding their job and pay.
Even if they were kept on, it would be an impossible situation to endure at the AG office, especially since most of these lawyers are from off island.
If any of them could stick it out in the instance of losing there job until it came to court, they would never be able to collect a court ordered award from the Govt.
This admin has many court ordered awards and they have not paid on any of them.
Retirement fund, Tony Peligrino on the Harbor project, how many land owners,landfills, EPA etc.
This admin (and others)do not honor the court system and these Judges do not seem to push the issue, including the Fed Judges.

Best that could happen is if any of the AAG's found another position and then opened up this mess.
Others have commented over the years after they went to Guam to work but none have pursued it to Fed court.
Hopefully since this incident, something may be going on behind the scenes.
Lets see, but I don't hold my breath.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 10:46

Good points -thanks!

Anonymous said...

You can't expect the feds to do everything. Their job is to investigate and prosecute federal crimes. Most crime is the responsibility of the local government. Local AG's and local people--most especially local voters--are going to have to man up if they want honest government.

Wendy said...

No one expects the feds to do everything. However, I expect that hate crimes and police brutality cases be investigated and prosecuted, that federal election violations be prosecuted, that people who take prisoners out of jail to serve themselves be prosecuted, that hate crimes be prosecuted, that the systematic failure of hundreds of employers to pay their nonresident workers be prosecuted,that federally funded local agencies involved in misusing federal funds be prosecuted.

Too many local voters casts their votes for who will give them a job, contract or some personal benefit. When we see a bill like HR 1466 that proposes to continue the disenfranchisement of a majority of the adult population of the CNMI do you seriously suggest change can be made at the ballot box?

Anonymous said...

Wendy, you are basely assuming facts not in evidence, gravely contributing to and instigating a breakdown of respect for the rule of law and due process in the CNMI far in excess of anything done by AAGs.

You are violating the dignity of some dedicated lawyers, besmirching their reputations, and spreading disinformation about the legal profession and OAG. The high level of turnover has been quite consistent over the past two decades, and is due in most part to the very substandard CNMI salaries offered in comparison to those available to other lawyers of equal experience and work demands elsewhere. This starts at the top; the salary of the AG should be raised to that of a Superior Court Associate Judge, effective upon the next swearing-in after election or confirmation.

You cry, complain, and scream the loudest about the OAG not doing enough (such as collecting wage claims), well now you know why. People will sacrifice a lot and give of themselves for modest financial remuneration, but when they are then slandered and pilloried for their sacrifice, and subjected to wanton public ridicule, it is no wonder most move on. In the history of the office, how many have remained more than four years -- which is the longest one can work there without passing the CNMI bar exam? Perhaps no more than a score.

You accuse OAG attorneys of condoning "improper behavior," being "scared to tell the truth," participation in a "cover up", and a "lack of courage" in the face of the AG’s "questionable acts" and "lies".

The alleged impropriety exists solely in the eyes of Governor Fitial’s political opponents, not in the objective eyes of the law.

Fitial’s use of all available alternative medicine resources (including detainees in CNMI facilities) is no different from President Obama’s use of Bethesda Naval Hospital or Walter Reed Army Hospital resources to assist the Physician to the President. Every federal and local official who has looked at the actual facts and circumstances, including prosecutors and inspectors general, has found no violation. (This is similar to the Marpi "suspected corruption," where the DOI OIG has "kicked the can" back to OIA.)

The so-called "Election-gate" was simply an ill-considered appearance of impropriety, but promptly rectified by the AG’s recusal from the election. Again, every independent local and federal official who has looked at this has found no violation of law.

You are participating in a sordid smear campaign redolent of McCarthyism at its worst.

Who is this anonymous confidential source? What right does he or she have to disclose confidential personnel matters that are protected from disclosure even by the Open Government Act? There is no "public right to know" confidential information such as this! Legally, attorneys would be remiss in their duty by revealing private information such as medical information or personnel matters.

That is where the focus should be. We live on islands where gossip and slander have become a way of life, and you, Wendy Lisk Doromal, are contributing heavily to those sins and objective evil.

Backbiting, threats of employment retaliation, false accusations, and similar behavior have all become commonplace, making actual corruption more possible because of all the false suspicions and unfounded media reports.

If you really want to promote progress, hope, and change in the CNMI, you should promote civility, reconciliation, healing, and love.

The Marianas Variety is a politically motivated paper that does whatever necessary to increase readership, whose ill-paid and poorly qualified "reporters" struggle to make their quota.

But you, who have no such motivations, should put the truth ever first and foremost in your thoughts, words, and actions.

That includes not jumping to conclusions, being fair and even-handed, and not misusing the enormous influence you wield.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 11:11

I am commenting on what was repeatedly published in the press AND on KSPN2 when Buckingham avoided answering (how honest is that!?) I said , "IF something corrupt or questionable is happening at my workplace I would expose it, regardless of threats or retaliatory actions. To do otherwise is to condone the inappropriate behavior. " I stand by that statement.

Massage gate was ridiculous. THAT COULD NOT HAPPEN IN ANOTHER LOCALITY without heads rolling and most likely arrests. No one knows what happened with election gate because the CNMI won't release the report by the OPA. Why is that? What is there to hide? Why all the secrecy?

I sympathize with low pay, but I am certain that these attorneys knew what their pay would be when they accepted the positions. None of the articles mention low pay -they mention "fear of losing one's job", which is why I commented on that.

I doubt that this is a smear campaign. I doubt that the Variety AND KSPN (where Buckingham looked like he was hiding something by dancing around direct questions) would report fabricated statements. A source exposed this. Is it true? Most likely. If not, every AAG would have stepped forward to say it was not, correct? I know if my boss was being falsely accused I would defend him and if he did something improper I would expose him.

The Marianas Variety is politically motivated? Really? I don't think so.

Thanks for your advice in what to promote. I promote justice and truth. I promote open government and equality, and I do NOT get paid at all. There is no real way to untangle the truth in this situation until some courageous people step forward, which is the purpose of this post! So let's see if the accusations fade away as more AAGs pack their bags and leave, or if some step forward to clear up the rumors and end the speculation.

Anonymous said...

It seems that anon 11:11 is one of the Govs hacks or even in the AG office.
There have been letter to the editor from past AAg's that have exposed many improprieties in the AG office.
I and other have experience "retaliation" from this Admin. in the form of cancelled contracts (similar to what the Gov. ordered in relation to pulling Govt. advertising with the MV along with not giving any public info to the MV)
I have had payment for equipment rentals and contractual work from the Govt withheld in retaliation.
Have been physically threatened with bodily harm,along with damage to my equipment and vehicles, had my subcontractors or prime contractors warned to keep me quiet or they would suffer consequences.
Too many things to list.
This is common with this Clowns political hires of the numerous felons.
Notice how the name of the "Carolinian Mafia" sticks by all. There is a big reason why.

I would like to hear of anything that this so called Gov. and his Carolinian Mafia has done that has had a positive impact on the NMI. (same goes for the Legislature)
I do not have time now to go into the other numerous activities that has gone on with this Penguin and his followers, but even most of the Govt. workers will tell anyone that they are scared of retribution to them and their families if they speak out about these vermin.

Anonymous said...

Such racketeering activity, if true, would be a federal crime and should be reported to the FBI at (670) 322-6934; fax (670) 322-6932.

More likely, however, it is the result of innocent circumstances (lack of funding) perceived as retaliation, or bona fide rogues and bad apples (self-important bureaucrats making empty threats).

Any administration has only a limited talent pool to work with, made worse when trying to incorporate the old U.S. "spoils" system into small insular politics. Don't assume that management condones the venality of each individual in Las Islas de Ladrones or the bluster of each cowardly "macho man." Not wishing to descend into stereotypes, but how can one blame a single governor for such societal shortcomings? Who says he doesn't try to address them privately? His own former AG reported former Lt. Gov. Villagomez to the feds.

I have to laugh whenever I see blog comments in the partisan and error-prone MVariety (well justifying not advertising there) urging apprehended miscreants or percipient witnesses to "rat-out" Fitial. Does not the lack of such referrals suggest there is nothing there?

As for accomplishments, number one must be his cutting the budget and eliminating more CNMI government employees than any other governor in history. (Fitial also stands up for what is right in the face of the Legislature; and laughs of scorn and baseless criticism that would make lesser men wilt.) He is a steady hand on the tiller during a time of buffeting financial and fiscal storms. His vision and experience have seen us through safe thus far.

Yes, there will be worse to come; we have not hit bottom. But I pray for our leaders every day (and our first-ever Filipina first lady) and thank God that the people had the wisdom to usher in nine years of policy stability that will bring us the best possible outcome in the face of the federal abdication of Covenant Section 701.

Let it BE!

Anonymous said...

Quit repeating the old lie that the former AG had anything to do with turning Villagomez in to the feds. It was OPA.

Anonymous said...

The referral of this matter by the CNMI AG to the FBI is a matter of public record.

At the time of indictment, the DoJ press release acknowledged the assistance of the CNMI OAG.

It is the obdurate deniers of this reality who are purveying an old lie.

Anonymous said...

If it's "a matter of public record," then you should hve no trouble stating which public record says that the AGO referred the matter to the FBI. DOJ press releases often give an attaboy for PR reasons, not because anyone actually referred or investigated anything. It was the Public Auditor that brought the case to the FBI.

Anonymous said...

"Attaboy for PR reasons"? Lame. That's not how the U.S. Department of Justice operates.

Instead of bloviating, try consulting with knowledgeable individuals.

The fact that the CNMI AG referred the case to the FBI does not take one iota of credit away from our hard-working CNMI OPA, which also makes its own referrals.

It is through teamwork that great things are accomplished.

Petty bickering such as yours and the associated crab mentality are what has gotten the CNMI into its current situation.

Anonymous said...

Just as I thought, you cannot identify one "public record" backing up your claim.

Anonymous said...

I've already identified the DOJ press release. You rely on your own ipse dixit and preposterous interpretation.

You are also free to consult with any of the DOJ, OAG, OPA, and FBI principals, which I have done. I am neither your research assistant nor law clerk, but your tendentious postulations have zero credibility.