Fitial's Lobbyist Pal Osborne on Saipan With Mahmood

November 30, 2012

Allegiance Capital Corp. and Saipan Development LLC's Kenneth Mahmood's appearance on Saipan is creating quite a stir. The controversial $190 million secret power plant deal penned with Saipan Development, Governor Fitial and fugitive former Attorney General Edward Buckingham was the last straw for many in the CNMI, who are fed up with the corruption and ridiculously poor governing. In fact, many say the deal was the impetus for Governor Fitial's impeachment resolution.

 If this contract is actually legitimate and the deal is such a wonderful deal for the people of Saipan, why was it made behind closed doors and penned even after Commonwealth Utilities Corporation officials advised against it?

Shouldn't the real stir be the fact that Mahmood is on Saipan with Republican lobbyist Jason Osborne? Is Osborne lobbying for Mahmood or has Fitial inked another lobbying contract for the CNMI or himself? On Osborne's Linked In page his accomplishments list him as principal of the lobbying firm, MITA Group. There is this statement from Osborne's Linked In page:
"In 2009, managed the successful re-election campaign of an incumbent Republican Governor Ben Fitial of the Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Islands." 
Interesting! Also, wasn't Fital re-elected under the Covenant Party, the party that he founded to get himself the governorship? He was not an "incumbent Republican" at all. (Read: FitialCrashes Party and Labels for background information.)

Interesting too is the fact that Jason Osborne was also the lobbyist-advisor for the Guam Calvo-Tenorio ticket. (See this Pacific News story.)

Perhaps more interesting is the fact that Fitial met with the lobbyist in June 2011 to "drum up support for shipyard legislation". The Saipan Tribune reported:
Immediately after providing testimony at the U.S. House side on U.S. Public Law 110-229 and House Resolution 1466, Gov. Benigno R. Fitial trekked to the Senate side to garner support from members of the Senate Armed Services Committee in an effort to take legislative action that would include the CNMI as an eligible site for the operation of a shipyard facility that would be able to service and repair U.S. flagship vessels. 
Similar to the facility in Guam, a shipyard in the Northern Marianas would give ships operating in and around region a ship repair facility with full dry dock and overhaul capabilities in the Western Pacific. The governor, along with press secretary Angel Demapan and MITA group's Jason Osborne, began his round of meetings at the office of Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), and then headed down the hall to see Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) and Sen. Jim Webb (D-Virginia) respectively. Herb Yamada from Delegate Kilili Sablan's office was also present in the meeting at Begich's office. . .
McCain, for his part, expressed his concerns for the people of the CNMI and his strong willingness to help resuscitate the depressed economy. As a start, McCain indicated his support to seeking congressional relief that would pave the way for a shipyard facility on Saipan. He further requested to be furnished with pertinent data relative to the economic decline in the CNMI as it would serve as a valuable reference in aiding and reinvigorating the Commonwealth's economic woes.

Lobbyist Jason Osborne, Governor Fitial, Senator John McCain,
and Angel Demapan, June 2011

 Did or does Osborne have a contract with the CNMI to lobby for the shipyard legislation or does he have another agenda? Since there is no legislation allowing shipyard repair in the CNMI isn't a contract or proposal suggesting one putting the cart before the horse?

Reps. Janet Maritita and Ray Yumul are challenging the Fitial-CUC-Saipan Development contract in a lawsuit. Rep. Maratita wants the Superior Court to summon Mahmood. Mamood has met only with hand-picked legislators, including Rota's Senator Juan Ayuyu who was arrested recently on federal charges.

Rep. Maritita correctly stated that Mahmood should have met with the public before the contract was penned.

The Marianas Variety reported:
The timing of Mahmood’s arrival is suspicious, she said. “If it is really a good contract, then sell it to the public and not to a few selected leaders. Sell it to the public because the public’s welfare is at stake in this agreement,” she said. 
Maratita also urged Fitial to inform the people about the supposed benefits of the power purchase agreement. 
“It’s a fishy agreement and is not in the best interests of the public,” she said. 
She respects the senators’ right to meet whoever they want to, “but this is already in the hands of the court and there is a [temporary restraining order] so I think we should honor the court’s decision right now.”
In a KSPN interview Mahmood's attorney Bill Fitzgerald questioned, "Where is the evidence that this is a bad deal for the CNMI?"

The real question is where is the evidence that it is a good deal?

Some Background on Osborne
Jason Osborne served as the director of external affairs for the GOP convention in Tampa last year. Perhaps he reconnected with Governor Fitial there?

Osborne also served as a senior advisor for Senator John McCain's presidential campaign. Before that Osborne worked for the late Senator Ted Stevens (R-ALASKA) who was himself no stranger to backdoor deals and was deeply involved in the Abramoff-CNMI scandal. Osborne was also the senior federal liaison for the National Rifle Association.

Read more on the controversial $190 million contract.:

Sickeningly Predictable
The Public is Not Stupid
Another CNMI Sole Source Secret Deal
Let the De-Throning Begin

I smell a rat, or two, or three. . .

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

This whole deal stinks. Someone needs to file an open government act request to see who Osborne is working for. This added piece of the puzzle makes it even dirtier. I hope that Maritita and Yumul prevail in court. What is the status of that case? Does anyone know?

Anonymous said...

One more month until impeachment. Can we put up a countdown clock?

Anonymous said...

I see the local media caught up to your exclusive on Jason Osborne: http://www.saipantribune.com/newsstory.aspx?newsID=123760&cat=1

Wendy Doromal said...

11:35 And that is the intention of this site – to inform, inspire people to investigate, and prod people to act! :)

Anonymous said...

So who else is part of Saipan Development founded just for this special backdoor deal? What locals are involved? Ask that when you meet with these guys senators.