Countdown to Impeachment

January 24, 2013

The CNMI House has made the impeachment of Governor Fitial its first order of business and is wasting no time.

During meetings on Thursday and Friday Articles I  II, III and V and VII  were adopted by the 7-member Special Investigating Committee on Impeachment. These articles relate to the governor's 2010 order to release a federal prison from custody to give him a massage. (See massage gate posts here.)

The impeachment panel is reviewing all 18 impeachment articles individually and then the House will vote. The House only has to impeach the governor on 1 of the 18 articles for the conviction to proceed in the Senate.

Only Rep. Felicidad Ogumoro, the governor's obedient backer, voted against adopting the articles. Rota Republican Rep. Teresita Santos, also a Fitial backer (seriously, what's the deal?), has been absent from the meetings.

The outraged public has made it known that any politician who backs Fitial and the corruption that he promotes, will not be re-elected. The governor will be impeached in the House where the needed votes are a certainty.  The Senate will then hold proceedings to convict. 

If the governor had any self-respect or respect for his constituents, he would resign.

Senator Juan Ayuyu Should Resign
The Senate has its own problems.  Senator Juan Ayuyu is in federal custody for smuggling fruit bats, an endangered species, and for interfering with a witness, which resulted in obstruction of justice charges.  He has been imprisoned in the Department of Corrections for several weeks under the custody of the federal marshalls.

This week the senator was put in isolation after it was discovered that he had possession of a cell phone. The phone was reportedly discovered during a DOC sweep.  It has not been revealed who gave him the phone, how long he had it or if it was seized by federal authorities so that they could see how many calls were made and to whom. 

It would not be surprising to learn that he has been in contact with Governor Fitial or other CNMI officials. In recent months Ayuyu appeared to realign himself with Fitial by entertaining representatives from the Saipan Development LLC, which penned the controversial power plant agreement with Governor Fitial and former Attorney General, now fugitive, Edward Buckingham. 

Auyuy's pro bono attorney and self-proclaimed "friend" of the senator, has withdrawn as the attorney in his case citing a conflict of interest. 

Attorney Steven Pixley represents Willie Tan and Tan Holdings Corporation. He stated in his declaration: "I am General Counsel for Tan Holdings Corporation. I respectfully believe that my continued representation of Juan M. Ayuyu in these criminal cases constitutes a conflict of interest requiring me to withdraw as counsel."

What is the conflict? Is there a conflict because Tan and the governor have been co-conspirators in numerous illicit deals and schemes and are working on a new one that Ayuyu has a role in?   Did Pixley provide his client with the phone? Was the smuggled fruit bat intended to be used at a Tan event? Where is the conflict of interest?

Further confusing matters is the fact that Ayuyu's new attorney is Attorney Jack Torres, the brother of Senator Ralph Torres, who is the chair of the Rules and Procedures Committee charged with determining whether or not to suspend or expel Senator Ayuyu. There is a clear conflict of interest with Jack Torres being Ayuyu's attorney. 

Senator Ayuyu's imprisonment could create a problem with impeachment procedures. An absent vote is a no vote for conviction. The Senate should have expelled the senator or at least suspended him so that he would not continue to draw his government salary while in prison. However, in the typical CNMI tradition, the Senate is stalling.

Another Stall
As far as I know the CNMI Bar Association has failed to take any steps to disbar former Attorney General Edward Buckingham. What's up with that?


Anonymous said...

Fitial won't go down without taking a few of the impeachers with him, maybe all of them. They all have dirty hands including Diego Benevente. Juan Babauta is a Fitial boy now and will spare nothing in feeding Fitial with past wrong doings, corruption, etc. Don't be surprised if these hearings go nowhere fast.

Anonymous said...

any senator who doesn't vote for impeachment will face recall. Terry Santos is playing a dangerous game.

Anonymous said...

fitial ur game is end plus ur dirty supporter,,uncle sam must investigate u and your all entire government,who is involve in dare u fecto saipanese corrupted.same u did with anothers,now ur turn,,,,ur willy is under uncle sam investigation...tell him just wait and watch...for his right place in saipan call monkey house...u all are cheated all cnmi residents...laniya,,,shame on u guys..