U.S. Office of Special Counsel: AG Buckingham Violated the Hatch Act

November 5, 2011

Today I received a letter from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. Last year I filed a Hatch Act Complaint against AG Buckingham for illegally using his office to support candidate Joe Camacho who was running for the position of Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives. I sent supporting documentation, which included the fact that the Office of the Attorney General received federal funding through grants.

 The 3-page letter from Attorney Mariana Liverpool examines how the Office of Special Counsel determined whether or not AG Edward Buckingham violated the Hatch Act. It concludes that he indeed did violate the Hatch Act. Disappointingly, it also states that the matter will be closed without further action. From the letter:
Based on the foregoing, the evidence suggests that Mr. Buckingham violated the Hatch Act by using the authority of his office to support a partisan political candidate. However, we are closing this matter without further action. We have advised Mr. Buckingham that should he again engage in Hatch Act prohibited activity while employed in a Hatch Act covered position, we would consider such activity to be a knowing and willful violation of the law that could result in his removal from his employment.
I am certain that the AG knew he was violating the law when the scandal was exposed and he was initially questioned about the campaign activities by the press. Instead of backing down, he arrogantly went ahead with the event. I am not even an attorney and I knew that Buckingham had violated the Hatch Act. This man is the Attorney General of the CNMI, for goodness sakes. He knows the law.

It is unfortunate that the Office of Special Counsel did not take action. Perhaps the federal attorneys assume that when the news is made public, the AG would resign.  After all it is not acceptable that the Attorney General cannot follow the law.  Like the governor that he serves, he feels that he is above the law. This law-breaking AG is also selective in enforcing the law. He has ignored or dismissed violations committed by the governor and his allies, while going after those that may have exposed corruption or his own violations, such as the Public Auditor.

If the governor respected the law and the people of the CNMI, he would fire AG Buckingham immediately. But he won't. If the Attorney General respected the law and the people of the CNMI, he would resign immediately.  But he won't.

Not only did AG Buckingham violate the federal Hatch Act, but according to the Office of the Public Auditor he violated CNMI ethical and election laws. According to the letter that I received today the AG  heard from the Office of Special Counsel and is aware that they determined that he violated the Hatch Act. According to the letter, the attorney "advised Mr. Buckingham that should he again engage in Hatch Act prohibited activity while employed in a Hatch Act covered position, we would consider such activity to be a knowing and willful violation of the law that could result in his removal from his employment." Yet he defiantly denies any wrong-doing, even when confronted with the report from the OPA, which likewise found that he violated the law.

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel is one federal office that is professional and thorough. I appreciate that the attorney contacted me, conducted a through investigation, and sent me the findings of the case. Hatch Act violations are serious, especially when committed by the Attorney General who is the highest ranking legal authority in any state or territory. He should be enforcing and upholding the law, not breaking the law.

Attorney General Edward Buckingham should resign immediately.

Here is the letter:

Read more about election-gate at this post.

Read the Report from the Office of the Public Auditor:


Anonymous said...

Two investigations found Bucky guilty of violating local and federal laws.Why oh why didn't the feds follow through and remove him? What are they thinking?

Anonymous said...

How is this any of your business, Wendy. Stick to defending the OCWs and leave the internal affairs of the NMI to us.

Anonymous said...

Great work, Wendy. I know your time is already overtaxed by your activism with CW issues, but I would be happy if you spent some of your energy on the CNMI government's other crimes and abuses, even if not directly related to CWs.

Noni 9:01: so "outsiders" (ex-residents) should not report crimes they know about? Because it's none of their business? This only applies if the crime doesn't personally hurt you, Noni, right?

Anonymous said...

Wendy, I suggest you blank out your private info from the letter.

Wendy Doromal said...

9:01: What happens anywhere in the U.S. or in the world is my business because I am a U.S. citizen and a world citizen. This issue is directly tied to my advocacy. The election of a CNMI delegate is important, not just to the residents of the CNMI, but also to every U.S. citizen and every person who lives anywhere on U.S. soil. Legislation introduced by a member of Congress from any state or territory impacts those living in other states or territories because every U.S. taxpayer funds projects and programs in every state and territory. Every piece of legislation that passes sets precedence that can impact people in all other states and territories.

This election was especially important to foreign workers because the CNRA was to be implemented in 2011, and the U.S. Congress was to (but did not ☹) act on status for all of the legal foreign workers during this Congress. Every person with an interest in the fate of the foreign workers had a huge stake in this election. Since the CNMI allowed the renewal of foreign workers for years and decades, they have essentially become de-facto citizens of the CNMI. Still they are denied the right to be participants in the political process; they have no voice in the political, social or economic decisions that directly impact them and their families. People who are voiceless are more susceptible to abuses. As a U.S. citizen I will use my voice to speak up for the foreign workers or anyone, whenever and wherever I decide to do so. I do not need your permission or approval, nor do I seek it.

As a federal taxpayer, I also have a stake in all elections on U.S. soil. I have seen my tax dollars go to many excellent CNMI projects that have benefited the people and the foreign workers who make up 90% of the private work force. I have also witnessed, more times than I can remember, my tax dollars being wasted or abused in the CNMI (and in other localities, which I also protested). I have a direct stake in what is happening in the CNMI because, proportionately by population, more tax dollars are spent in the CNMI than most other places in the U.S. No CNMI residents pay federal income taxes; I do. I have a right to voice my opinion on all federally funded projects and all federally funded agencies in the CNMI. I have a right to express my opinions on how tax dollars are spent and who is overseeing them. In this case it is a rogue Attorney General. I do not want this AG overseeing federal funds and having the power to decide what cases are prosecuted.

The CNMI AGs, past and present, have ignored the wage theft of foreign workers even though it has been, and continues to be, blatant and routine. This deliberate failure to prosecute violating employers has contributed to the suffering and injustices against the foreign workers. It has contributed to the humanitarian crisis. The failure to prosecute employer-thieves that have stolen wages and made illegal deductions, such as illegally charging the foreign workers to pay for their own physicals and permit fees if they want to be renewed, has perpetuated and encouraged the abuses. Because no erring employer-thieves have been prosecuted, these criminal employers continue to steal from foreign workers. Other employers of foreign workers have been empowered to follow suit, knowing that they can steal from foreign workers and break the law with absolutely no consequences, no jail time and no fines. It is an outrage. This is not just a black mark on the CNMI, but it is a black mark on the reputation of the United States Government that has watched and allowed wage theft to become common practice. Why is the Tinian Dynasty being allowed to steal from foreign workers right now? Why is the Rota Hotel? Why have no employer-thieves been prosecuted? Ask if justice will be served when a law-breaking Attorney General, the highest-ranking legal authority in the CNMI, is himself a lawbreaker. I think not. As MLK said, Everyone needs to stand up to injustice everywhere.

Wendy Doromal said...

10:07 Thank you. Done.

Anonymous said...

One of the participants in all of this election fraud is Joe Camacho. This guy is now a judge. Reward the lawbreakers for sure. This place has no shame.

Anonymous said...

The AG is a pompous and unethical attorney. Read his comments to the Marianas Variety on this issue. He has no shame and refuses to accept that he broke the law.

Wendy Doromal said...


I read the AG's comments in the MV. If the Office of the Special Counsel said, "We have advised Mr. Buckingham that should he again engage in Hatch Act prohibited activity while employed in a Hatch Act covered position, we would consider such activity to be a knowing and willful violation of the law that could result in his removal from his employment” then the office has advised him and he is not telling the truth. I will call the attorney tomorrow and request a copy of any correspondence that the OGC sent to Buckingham. He needs to be honest. How can the people of the CNMI stand that their AG is dishonest and unethical? Wow.

Anonymous said...

You allege the crime of "wage theft" without specifying what statute has been violated. Theft of services? Perhaps, though have any complaints have been filed with DPS?

Such incidents are actually civil violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), a federal law enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) applicable to enterprises doing $500,000 business annually, which certainly includes the Tinian Dynasty Hotel.

[The CNRA should be amended to reduce Enterprise coverage in the CNMI to $50,000 while the transition program remains in effect.]

You point the finger of blame at former CNMI AGs such as Pamela Sue Brown, but why aren't the feds enforcing blatant FLSA violations with a permanent DOL lawyer on-island? You touted the disastrous immigration take-over as being required because of such problems, but this has been within federal jurisdiction all along!

Wake up, Wendy. YOU caused the FLSA problem by your misdirection and complicity in absolving the feds of responsibility. Don't try to shift blame from DOL and yourself.

Wendy Doromal said...

1:06 THEFT IS THEFT. If an employee steals from the employer it is THEFT; if anyone steals from another person it is THEFT. How is it not theft if an employer continually steals from an employee? Do the laws need to be re-written? Maybe. Something MUST be done to stop this. Something should have been done decades ago. The system is not working!

I am awake and I have been awake for over 20 years pointing this out to local and federal officials. You say I caused the problem? No, actually the employer-theives are at the root of the problem and both the local and federal officials who KNEW about this for decades have perpetuated it. I reported the wage theft for 20 plus years, and have begged for prosecution and an end to this outrageous problem. Read my report from 1992 (right sidebar). It talks about wage theft, as has every single report and testimony I have written since then. Before you accuse people, you need to get your facts straight. What are you doing to help the victims and to solve the problem?

Wendy Doromal said...

1:06 And another thing...there are and were CNMI laws that prevent wage theft. There were hundreds, if not thousands of CNMI DOL-issued administrative orders issued to thief-employers who failed to follow them, and failed to pay their employers what they were owed. The CNMI government failed to prosecute the employer-theives who violated the orders and therefore got away with the theft. I have never had any power to enforce laws in the CNMI or anywhere, so to blame me is pathetic.

Anonymous said...

The CNMI law was called the Minimum Wage and Hour Act, until Seimer & Kaipat got the legislature to gut it.

Anonymous said...

Wendy, if not already, maybe you should send the info to "Kilili". I don't know what could be done about Camacho though as these elected clowns don't care either. They are no better than this Gov. and company.

Wendy Doromal said...

Anonymous person who keeps sending comments that put down the foreign workers, libs and my judgment, know that I am not publishing your comments. The letter does say the AG violated the Hatch Act. It says, "We have advised Mr. Buckingham that should he again engage in Hatch Act prohibited activity while employed in a Hatch Act covered position, we would consider such activity to be a knowing and willful violation of the law that could result in his removal from his employment." A person cannot be advised that if he should AGAIN engage in Hatch Act prohibited activity if he never participated in such activity before. Stop the spin and take your lib, anti-fed and anti-worker attacks to another site please.

Anonymous said...

Last trip to Pohnpei, I met a local lawyer who made a comment regarding Buckingham. Apparently over eleven years ago, Ed was run off the island of Pohnpei. He was told to leave or face disbarrment.Talk is cheap but one does wonder about this AG.