"It's our party, we can do what we want.
It's our party, we can say what we want.
It's our party, we can love who we want,
We can kiss who we want,
We can screw who we want."
- Miley Cyrus
By Nancy I. Maanao
(Tumon, Guam) The largesse of the Commonwealth's political class hovers over its struggling citizens like a dark cloud masking the bright rays of the sun.
Gov. Ralph Torres and his brothers and their wives have been living large and taking charge, plundering the Commonwealth while they're at it. And whose money are they using? Yours, of course. You are the taxpayer. You are the person, along with your brothers and sisters of the Commonwealth, who provide the funding that Mr. Torres uses to buy everything from Cheetos and soft candy and Vienna sausage to Bose headphones and 75-quart coolers for his Boise home.
You are the person, who funds he and his wife's first class travel tickets as they jet set across the continental United States, Japan and everywhere in between while they dine on foie gras and drink like Roman gods while you eat the scraps of an economy destroyed by the casino he brought from a junket to Macau.
The Commonwealth Legislature has been reticent to hold Mr. Torres accountable for his actions, first refusing to accept evidence of his corruption, then forced by public demand, taking action, but dragging its feet.
The question is, why?
Kandit News Group on December 26, 2019, requested from every member of the Commonwealth Legislature - both the House and the Senate - the receipts of their expenditures of public money from the monthly $2,500 to $5,000 they are allowed to take in personal checks cut to them by the Department of Finance.
Three members of the independent minority - Edmund Villagomez, Tina Sablan, and Ed Propst - responded and disclosed that they do not avail of the monthly allowance.
No member of the Senate has responded yet.
Eleven of the 14 members of the Republican majority, including its speaker, vice speaker, floor leader, and ways and means chairman, refused to disclose their receipts.
What are they hiding?
The recent disclosures of reimbursement memos and corresponding receipts that led to about $100,000 in payments to Mr. Torres for personal purchases paid by the Commonwealth has led to a convincing public outcry and call for his removal from office.
Will the citizens of the Commonwealth find the same plunder of their government by these 11 members of the Republican House majority? Is this why they are so hesitant to move forward with an investigation into the governor? Do they know that their day of reckoning is upon them if they reveal their purchases on the public dime?
Quarterly reports to Speaker Blas Jonathan Attao already show that several members of the Republican majority use public funds on questionable car leases, supposed supply costs rounded to the nearest whole number, and a generous amount in "donations." Who were these donations to? Were the donations made on behalf of the people of the Commonwealth, or were they made to the political and personal benefit of the congressmen who made them?
What about their travel costs? Mr. Torres's first class travel is the subject of much-deserved scrutiny, though Attorney General Edward Manibusan hasn't done jack about the illegal purchases. And neither has the Legislature. What are they waiting for?
Maybe they're not waiting at all. Maybe they're stalling, for this whole nightmare to blow over. And it's very likely that is has nothing to do with Mr. Torres's crimes, and everything to do with their own.
This scrutiny into the Commonwealth Legislature hit the the pause button on the party.
Take it from me, when you're having too much fun and get with the wrong crowd, sometimes you cross the line. Like, when you're on government travel to Guam and you catch your husband having an affair with his very special assistant, and you decide that the law is beneath you and you ram your car rental into his while his girlfriend is in the car with him.
When you're partying on the public dime and having the time of your life living it up, annoying details like the law mean nothing, when ironically, it's supposed to mean everything to your oath of office.
Or when you get so drunk the police have to pull you over and arrest you for endangering the lives of others on the road, and because you happen to be the most powerful member of the Commonwealth House of Representatives and your lawyer happens to be Don Torrleone himself, you get a slap on the wrist.
Or when you can be driven by a highly-paid police officer in your government-issued vehicle to a local hotel in the middle of the work day to meet your government-employed mistress for a rendezvous.
Or when you're a judge on the take, and you like the headlines so you hand out sentences beyond your authority to drug users while letting monsters who rape children off the hook because they're politically connected.
You know what the difference is between a drug user and a corrupt public official? A drug user who doesn't steal or get violent actually does nothing to hurt anyone but themselves. A corrupt public official hurts the entire Commonwealth, steals from all of its people, and fans the flames of violence. And if you think about it, they act that way sober. That criminal mindset is innate to them. So, who's the real criminal?
There's no difference, though, between a rapist and a corrupt politician. They're both monsters. They both will never change.
In the wake of the public discovery of Mr. Torres's shopping sprees, his sister-in-law, Rowina Torres, took to social media to wave his corruption for the world to see. #untouchables
She's waving their corruption in your face. They're singing from Miley Cyrus's party pre-refrain, 'La da di da di, we like to party, dancing with Molly, doing whatever we want. This is our house. These are our rules,' and laughing in all our faces with the arrogance of someone who believes there is nothing we can do about it.'
In her 2013 party hit, We can't stop, Miley Cyrus sings about her party life with drugs and her friends, boasting, "We can't stop. We won't stop. We run things, things don't run we."
Unlike the life she lived, where the only person Ms. Cyrus was hurting was herself with her ecstasy use, the CNMI political class, who have been running things can't possibly sing the end of the refrain, "Don't take nothing from nobody."
They took and they took, and they're on the take. It's been one big party of criminals posing as highly-respected members of society.
But with the refusal to disclose these receipts, one thing is perfectly clear: they don't want you to see what they spent your money on. They know what comes after that. The music is off. The red cups are scattered on the floor. The light is on. The cockroaches have fled. The party is over.