By Troy Torres
(Tumon, Guam) Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero over the years has been a staunch opponent of gambling. Her former lieutenant at the Bank of Guam, where she was the president and CEO, Jackie Marati, was the most vocal member of anti-gambling group Linala Sin Casino.
Despite her promises and platitudes against gambling, the governor has gone on the record to oppose Vice Speaker Telena Nelson's Bill No. 226, which will make the gamerooms and slot machines illegal.
Immediately before Ms. Leon Guerrero made her public statement against Bill No. 226, she had hired Carlo Branch to be her director of policy.
Mr. Branch is a known gambler. While he is not known to frequent gamerooms, he does participate in illegal card games, hosted daily and weekly at certain residences throughout the island. The stakes often are high in the tournaments; and the distinguishable illegal character of the games is that the house makes money.
Ms. Leon Guerrero's chief policy person is no stranger to the effort to legalize gambling even beyond the Liberty slot machines. In 2008 he was the spokesman for Proposal A, the corporate-backed initiative to legalize casino gambling only at the Guam Greyhound in Tamuning.
Of course, it would not be fair to place Ms. Leon Guerrero's tendencies on this matter completely on the advice she receives from Mr. Branch. Her campaign also has received tens of thousands of dollars in cash and much more in in-kind contributions from the owners and principals of Guam Music, Inc., which has the license to the majority of these slot machines. The owners and principals include Lauren Bromley, who recently took up residence in Guam following her October 23 purchase of a $3.75 million mansion at Talo Verde in Tamuning.
Also included are Gil and Connie Jo Brennan Shinohara. Ms. Shinohara is Ms. Leon Guerrero's deputy seaport manager. They own several gamerooms and a mansion of their own in Barrigada Heights. John and Sheila Torres also are big contributors to Ms. Leon Guerrero's campaigns, and are principals in the company.
Attorney Randy Cunliffe also owns gamerooms, where these slot machines are played. Mr. Cunliffe is Ms. Leon Guerrero's husband's law partner at the firm Cunliffe & Cook. Mr. Cunliffe also hosted the secret post-Primary Election meetings between Ms. Leon Guerrero and her defeated opponents in the Democratic primary. Those were the meetings, where Ms. Leon Guerrero attempted to 'wheel and deal' with her former opponents in exchange for their support of her into the General Election.
As the saying of political sages go, 'Money talks.' Blood Money destroys families. The people who make it, don't care.