August 5, 2012
The Marianas Variety reports that Attorney General Buckingham will face the criminal charges filed against him. The AG stated that "family plans were made some time ago that included travel over the weekend." Days before his dramatic exit, he was on KSPN telling the public that he would be leaving the CNMI for good on Sunday to join his wife in San Francisco.
If a person is summoned to court, he can cancel his travel plans, especially if that person is the Attorney General. What an elitist excuse for the highest law official in a locality to miss a court date. He knew at least a day before his departure that charges were filed against him and yet he avoided being served a summons and left anyway.
The AG reportedly stated:
I continue to serve as the attorney general for the commonwealth. The unexpected filing by [OPA] has placed a cloud on me and on the office. Accordingly, I have notified the governor that I have withdrawn my previously issued notice of intent to resign. The governor concurs with this status.
I have had the privilege of serving the commonwealth in the Office of the Attorney General for nine years: 3 years in Civil, 3 in Criminal, and 3 as AG. To think that at the last hour of my last day of nine years of service I would learn that OPA had chosen to submit certain misdemeanor charges was disheartening. That said, I have confidence and appreciation that most people in the commonwealth know that our office and me personally have done our best to serve the people. I have never claimed to be perfect. I have claimed that I have done my best.The AG also stated, "I also stand on previous statements that I have never used the Office of the Attorney General to endorse or oppose the candidacy of any candidate."
That is a lie. The U.S. Office of Special Counsel declared that they determined that AG Buckingham DID use his office to endorse and support the governor's candidate, Joe Camacho who ran against Delegate Sablan in the 2010 delegate race. I filed a Hatch Act complaint against AG Buckingham, submitting hundreds of pages of documentation to support the claim. In an October 28, 2011, letter to me, Attorney Liverpool of the U.S. Office of Special Council also stated that she informed AG Buckingham that he had violated the Hatch Act. From her letter to me:
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.The good people of the CNMI deserve an Attorney General who is not a liar and a lawbreaker, who does not cover up corruption for political allies within the Fitial Administration. This AG not only violated the Hatch Act, as was confirmed by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, but he again used government resources –resources, personnel, and equipment of the DPS to prevent the OPA investigators from serving him a summons!
There must be a thorough investigation to determine who authorized the use of Department of Public Safety personnel, equipment and resources to escort the Buckinghams to the airport in an attempt to prevent the AG from being served the court summons. Federal funds should be withheld from the DPS until it is determined that resources are not squandered or employed to obstruct justice. I will be writing to federal officials and offices to bring this outrageous act to their attention and to request an investigation.
I am not sure of CNMI law, but it seems that the CNMI Legislature may be able to act to remove this unethical man from office. It is incredible that he announced his resignation and now that he was served with the summons, he has reversed his decision. Who wants him to remain as Attorney General aside from Governor Fitial? What a self-serving, shameless man Edward Buckingham has turned out to be!
While it has been confirmed that Attorney General is a liar and lawbreaker, apparently his wife is also a liar. While the two were holed up in the Aquarius Towers it was reported that she told OPA investigators who were trying to serve the summons to her husband that he was not there. He should explain why he hid in his hotel room and had his wife lie to those trying to serve him. This is not the behavior expected of an attorney general.
It was revealed in the Marianas Variety that not only were there eight police officers and the DPS Deputy Commissioner attempting to prevent investigators from serving Buckingham, but Governor Fitial's security aide Jermaine Nekaifes was escorting the AG and his wife. This appears to confirm the involvement and approval of the governor. This also should be investigated.
You can read Tina Sablan's description of the event at The Marianas Variety here.