By Jacob Nakamura
(Tumon, Guam) When the Commonwealth Legislature was under pressure in December last year to press for an investigation into the governor's corruption and residents began questioning whether legislators themselves were corrupt, Precinct 1 Congresswoman Janet Maratita defiantly said on the House floor:
"Ekua dai sa' ti corrupted yu'"
Ms. Maratita also defiantly refused to disclose her receipts of expenditures of legislative allowances she has received during this legislative term, which began January 2019. Most Republican lawmakers refused to disclose their receipts.
So, instead, Kandit sent an Open Government Act request to the Department of Finance for the documents pertaining to each member's legislative allowances. Finance has responded, and Kandit now has all the records.
Perhaps the reason Ms. Maratita did not want to disclose her receipts, is because those receipts will explain how exactly she spent $50,500 of your money that was released to her in 2019. During the calendar year, the Commonwealth government suffered through a nearly-$100 million budget deficit, and began what is expected to be a $50 million budget deficit.
Though Ms. Maratita understood the financial situation of the people at the time she took these allowances, she was not bashful at all in asking for the money. As a matter of fact, as the budget crisis was growing, Ms. Maratita asked for more money.
In a January 15, 2019 letter to then-Secretary of Finance Larissa Larson, Ms. Maratita requested an allowance of $2,500 per month for January through September.
Then on June 26, 2019, she rescinded the amounts she was requesting from the balance of her first letter's request, and upped the amount to $3,500 a month from July to September.
In a September 11, 2019 letter to Secretary of Finance David Atalig, Ms. Maratita requested the max amount for the remainder of 2019 - $5,000 per month.
Interestingly, Ms. Maratita refers to the monthly allowance in the letters as a monthly subsistence allowance, and not as a legislative allowance that was created to assist the legislators from Tinian and Rota to pay for the cost of working for the taxpayers as they maintain operations in both Saipan and their home islands.
Ms. Maratita lives in Saipan.
This is the first in our series exposing legislative allowance spending as the Commonwealth Legislature refuses to move forward in its duties to investigate the governor.