February 3, 2013
From the story:
Rota and Tinian hold six of the Senate’s nine seats. Once impeached by the House — which is now a certainty — Fitial will be removed from office if six senators convict him of the charges filed by the House.
Variety has also learned that a businessman, known to be a supporter of the governor, is willing to pay the debts of a senator to ensure that the lawmaker will not find Fitial guilty.
The governor, moreover, tried but failed to convince two pro-impeachment House members to switch sides — Reps. Mario Taitano and Janet U. Maratita.
Former Gov. Froilan C. Tenorio, a Fitial ally, confirmed that the governor asked him to talk to several House members . . .
. . .Sources tell Variety that there should be six senators who will vote to convict Fitial, but the members to “watch” are those from Rota and Tinian.
Within the last year there has been a grassroots movement to end the bribing, backdoor deals and underhanded scheming that has been the accepted and typical practice of CNMI leaders and officials for decades. The corrupt system worked out well for Fitial and his friend, former felon Jack Abramoff back in 2000. When Abramoff needed his lobbying contract renewed, he schemed with Fitial to ensure that Fitial would be elected as House speaker and could ensure his contract renewal.
Abramoff sent his co-conspirators, Mike Scanlon and Neil Volz to the CNMI bribe former Rota Rep. Alejo Mendiola and former Tinian Rep. Norman Palacios to change their votes from Hofschneider to Fitial with the promise of securing federal funds for Rota and Tinian infrastructure projects. The scheme worked out well for Fitial, who got what he wanted – the speakership and a contract renewal for Abramoff. Things did not work out so well for Abramoff, Volz and Scanlon who were all convicted in the lobbying scandal.
It appears that Fitial is once again targeting the Rota and Tinian delegations. After all, he did say that the people from Rota were "stupid" so perhaps he thinks that they are easy targets. In fact, the people of Rota did part ways with the majority of the CNMI voters who voted "no to corruption" and rejected the majority of Fitial's candidates in the last election. The people of Rota elected Fitial candidates, Victor Hocog to the Senate and Terisita Santos to the House.
Rota Senator Ayuyu is in jail and conveniently cannot vast a vote in the impeachment process, which means a "no" vote. Recently it was reported that he was put in isolation because he was found with a cell phone. There has been no news on what transpired with that incident or whether or not the Senate will sanction or expel him. However, his new attorney, Jack Torrres is the brother of Senator Ralph Torres. That appears to be a major conflict of interest.
Regardless, it looks like Fital believes that he can sway some of the Rota and Tinian senators. If any of these elected officials looked at the governor's record they would know that once he gets what he wants those who helped him seize the prize have been discarded like yesterday's trash.
Several questions arise here. Are there any CNMI laws that prohibit officials or others from interfering with an impeachment process? Are there any laws against bribing public officials? Are there any federal laws that are being violated? Can the Office of the Public Auditor conduct an investigation on whether or not the governor or others are bribing elected leaders?