August 7, 2012
Attorney General Edward Buckingham great escape from the CNMI once again highlighted the Fitial Administration's corruption and the arrogant belief that pro-governor officials are above the law.
Certainly every CNMI public official, including the DPS Deputy Police Chief, the Ports Police Chief, the Airport Security officials, and every participating government employee who participated in the obstruction of justice should be investigated and charged if is determined that they violated any law. And it certainly looks like they did.
The KSPN news coverage is startling. How could any official authorize or take part in such an unethical and illegal operation? As more details are revealed, I am sure that the public outrage will escalate. High level armed and uniformed on-duty police officers, including the governor's security aide tried to close the airport's VIP lounge to shield Buckingham from being served, and on-duty police officers and personnel used their badges to get into secure areas of an international airport to obstruct justice. The Department of Homeland Security should investigate this. Every officer who was involved should no longer be wearing a badge.
The KSPN footage and facts also reveal something that has not been discussed in the news coverage. Some truly courageous heroes emerged from this scandal and they should not go unrecognized. They include AAG George Hasselback, the OPA investigators that made extensive attempts to serve the AG, the FBI agents who finally served him, and reporter Tina Sablan and her partner Glen Hunter. All of these people fought to see that justice was served.
In a letter to Governor Fitial, Senate President Paul Manglona, speaking on behalf of the Senate, called for an explanation of the late night operation and asked why the governor reinstated the criminally charged AG after he officially and publicly submitted his resignation. In fact, since he was officially resigned doesn't the Senate have to conduct hearings to reinstate him?
The Marianas Variety reported:
In his letter, the Senate president told Fitial that he, the governor, should investigate the actions of DPS officers including Deputy Commissioner Ambrosio T. Ogumoro, the governors’ security aide, Capt. Jermaine Nekaifes and Ports Police Chief Jordan Kosam.
Ogumoro, Nekaifes and Kosam escorted Buckingham and his wife, Pam, to the airport at 3 a.m., Saturday, the same moment the Office of Public Auditor was trying to serve the penal summons to the AG.
Sources told Variety that OPA asked DPS to serve Buckingham the summons. But one of the ranking officers at DPS told OPA to “do your job.”"Do your job?" Isn't law enforcement and justice the "job" of the Department of Public Safety?
The senator also said that Buckingham should be allowed to use "one penny of tax money" to defend himself.
The Saipan Tribune also quoted the letter:
“Please investigate and explain why taxpayer resources are being used to carry the bags of the attorney general and his spouse? Why was there a need to guard them at a secured venue such as the airport? If there was a legitimate threat to his safety, why was the media the only party that was prevented from approaching the attorney general and filming his departure?”Rep. Frank Dela Cruz and other legislators suggested conducting oversight hearings on DPS, CPA and other agencies involved. From the Saipan Tribune:
“My question is, who authorized this escort service? We really don't have to look far for an answer. It was the order of the governor. I don't for a minute believe that deputy commissioner Ogumoro concocted this plan by himself. I challenge the chairs of the Senate EAGI Committee and House JGO Committee to initiate an oversight on this matter for DPS as well as CPA police,” Dela Cruz said.Rep. Stanley Torres, a Fitial ally, claimed that "it's all about vengeance and revenge on the part of the Office of the Public Auditor against Buckingham."
Other CNMI leaders who spoke out against the use of public personnel and resources to obstruct justice include Democratic Party President retired Judge Edward Manibusan and Democratic Party Vice President retired Justice Jesus C. Borja. Some members of the Republican Party who are also candidates were quoted by the Marianas Variety saying that "their central committee should take action against the party chairman, Gov. Benigno R. Fitial, “before the embarrassing course of events cause the Republican Party to collapse.” (Read more in the Marinas Variety and in the Saipan Tribune.)
Why would anyone think that the governor would answer the Senate President's letter in an honest way, if he responds at all? Didn't the governor arrange or endorse the escort service and in doing do isn't he also under investigation? Did the governor allow Buckingham to rescind his resignation so that the AG could maintain control of the OAG to his own benefit and to hide the governor's involvement in this latest scandal? Why else would the governor allow an AG that has a bench warrant for his arrest to reclaim his throne?
Since AG Buckingham is being paid for his 30-day "vacation" shouldn't his pay be suspended as long as he is a fugitive? What steps can the CNMI Legislature take to kick him out of office? Was his "trip" paid for by the CNMI government as part of a repatriation package? Shouldn't he have to repay the CNMI if it was?
How can the attorneys in the OAG work under the direction of an Attorney General who broke the law by fleeing the CNMI? Doesn't anyone think it is dangerous to try to maintain an important office like the OAG under such adverse conditions? How can the OAG attorneys be expected to get their jobs done and work effectively under such horrific conditions and under the direction of such a loathsome and deceitful boss? Perhaps some of the former OAG attorneys may know a lot about both the election violations and the ARRA contract. Maybe this latest incident of Buckingham's will inspire more of them to come clean withwhat they know.
Shouldn't DPS, the FFA and the Transportation Security Administration be investigating the incidents at the airport? How can uniformed local law enforcers (in this case law breakers) be allowed into secure areas for the sole purpose of obstructing justice? Why is anyone who is not ticketed allowed into this area? Isn't this considered a security breach? Who authorized their entry?
Read the amended information -complaint against AG Buckingham.