CNMI Officials Withhold Information on Federal Funding of DPS

November 6, 2011

A response concerning a second Hatch Act complaint I filed regarding a fundraiser for candidate Joseph Camacho sponsored by DPS Deputy Commissioner Ambrosio Ogumoro came from the Office of Special Counsel.

Like AG Buckingham, DPS Deputy Commissioner Ambrosio Ogumoro used his position and authority of his office to support a partisan political candidate during the last election. The letter I received stated that the Office of the Special Counsel was unable to determine if Ogumoro was covered by the Hatch Act and the office decided to "close this matter without further action."

It appears that the Office of Special Counsel could not determine whether the DPS received federal funds, which is a criteria for determining a Hatch Act violation. From the letter:
Generally, to determine whether an employee is covered by the Hatch Act, we examine the federal funding received by the employee's employlng agency and the employee's duties. After we determine that an employee is covered by the Hatch Act, we next ascertain whether the employee engaged in activities that violated the Act. 
In the instant matter, we requested information about DPS's federal funding multiple times from, among others, DPS Commissioner Santiago Tudela and Ramon C. Mafnas. Despite our repeated requests we have not received a response. Accordingly, we have been unable to determine whether M r. Ogumoro is covered by the Hatch Act. Thus, we have decided to close this matter without further action.
Why would the OSC ask the very office being investigated to provide them with information? Couldn't this information be gathered from another federal agency, say the U.S. Department of Justice that provided funding for the COPS grant? The letter from the OSC did note that federal funding to the DPS was indicated in a news article I referred to them. The article clearly stated that the U.S. Department of Justice "Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), informed the CNMI government that it has been awarded a grant of $519,048.00. The grant award will fund the hiring of nine DPS police officers for a three-year period." I am sure that the USDOJ could verify this information as easily as anyone from DPS.

To understand or review the background on this questionable election activity read this October 6, 2010 I wrote about suspected Hatch Act violations by DPS:
Allegations of  Camacho campaign irregularities keep on coming.  One would think that with the Hatch Act Violation complaints, formal complaints to the Office of the Public Auditor asking for an investigation, and all of the publicity suggesting that government offices are using government equipment and time to campaign for Camacho, that the campaign would start following election law.  Apparently, Covenant Party members and supporters consider themselves above the law. It appears that the Fitial Administration and Covenant Party are thumbing their noses at the law and CNMI residents.

The Marianas Variety reports that controversial Deputy Commissioner Ambrosio Ogumoro told DPS personnel to bring food to the Camacho campaign event held at Garapan Beach:
The source said Ogumoro instructed police supervisors during the 1:30 p.m. command staff meeting on Monday “to put out food” for the “meet and greet” gathering of former Rep. Joseph James Norita Camacho held on Tuesday night at the Garapan Roundhouse.

Camacho is the ruling Covenant Party’s candidate for U.S. delegate and has been endorsed by the governor.

The source said Ogumoro instructed police supervisors “to talk to their men.”

...“It’s really disturbing and unacceptable that the deputy commissioner would be injecting politics, especially in this time of government shutdown,” the source said.

The source said the command staff meeting is usually held on Tuesday, but Ogumoro this week scheduled it for Monday.

The source said Ogumoro used official time when he told police supervisors about the “meet and greet” party for Camacho.

“Ogumoro did not only violate ethics but also used police supervisors — who are first line civil service employees — to influence their subordinates to prepare food for the event,” the source said.

Another source said DPS personnel delivered tables, cut fish and helped in the preparation of the gathering while on the clock.
What does Camacho have to say about this and the allegations of illegal election activities lodged against the OAG and other Fitial Administration departments and cabinet members?  Anything?

Meanwhile AG Edward Buckingham, who was accused of violating the Hatch Act and other improprieties, has hired private attorney Anthony Long to defend him. The Saipan Tribune reported:
A lawyer disclosed to Saipan Tribune that Buckingham has tapped attorney Anthony Long to defend him in the allegations.

The lawyer said Buckingham used taxpayers' money to pay Long's legal representation.

Asked about the issue, Buckingham yesterday confirmed that he indeed retained Long to serve as his counsel effective Sept. 17, 2010.

Buckingham said Long will represent him as AG in connection with the Camacho issue and related issues.

“He (Long) is engaged pursuant to a contract with the Commonwealth,” the AG said.
All of the Covenant games are costing taxpayers money. The bankrupt government is now paying for a private attorney for the AG. How much will Election-gate cost the CNMI?
The answer to that question that I asked in 2010 has been revealed. The CNMI's cost of the attorney for AG Buckingham to defend himself against the Hatch Act and OPA complaints was  $12, 940 according to the Saipan Tribune.

Amazingly, the Attorney General still denies any wrong doing even though both the OPA Report and the letter from the Office of Special Counsel indicate that Attorney General Buckingham violated the federal Hatch Act and violated CNMI ethics and election laws. I do not understand why there are no consequences for violating these laws. Both the Office of the Special Counsel and the Office of the Public Auditor stated that the law had been violated, and both failed to prosecute. What is the deterrent to follow laws if both the CNMI and the federal governments fail to prosecute or even fine the offenders?

Read the letter from the Office of Special Counsel concerning the DPS-Ogumoro Hatch Act complaint:

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

This was one lazy federal investigation. They depended on the accused parties to give them information that could be used against them? They brushed off any chance of prosecution, even though several governmental offices were involved, all who receive federal funds? Lazy.

Anonymous said...

Congressman Gregorio (Kilili) Sablan Camacho's office could probably provide details of all federal funding provided to CNMI government offices.