(Editor's note: This is the fourth in an expose of the members of the Commonwealth Legislature, who have taken monthly allowances on top of their salaries)
CHAPTER 9: Marco Peter
By Jacob Nakamura
(Tumon, Guam) With an attendance record that earns him the Twenty-first Commonwealth Legislature's Most Likely to Miss Work superlative, it is hard to imagine just how Saipan House representative Marco Peter had the occasion to spend $13,400 on official functions.
The Precinct 3 Republican lawmaker, notorious for his absence from the House floor, began taking the allowance in June 2019, when he received $2,500. The following month he received $1,000. In August, Mr. Peter asked for and received the maximum amount: $5,000.
The congressman received $2,700 for September; a request that was made on the last day of that month. On November 5, 2019, he asked for $700, then seven days later he requested another $1,500.
The Legislature years ago authorized allowances for its Tinian and Rota legislative delegations to defray costs of functioning in both their home islands and in Saipan. In January 2019 the Legislature changed its rules to allow its Saipan legislators to take the allowance, capped at $5,000 each month, as well.
Most Republicans in both the House and the Senate take the monthly allowances, according to documents Kandit received from the Department of Finance resulting from an Open Government Act request. Most Republicans refused to disclose the receipts of their spending of these allowances.
Mr. Peter never responded to Kandit's request for receipts; he was the only member of the House to not respond to our OGA.
The $13,400 in allowances Mr. Peter took is on top of the $32,000 annual salary he receives. Those who prefer to keep their elected officials accountable to the taxpayers who foot the bill for their salaries and lifestyles may want to ask Mr. Peter how he has time to spend $13,400 on official functions, if he doesn't even have the time to go to work and earn that $32,000 salary.
P.s. - We saw the post about an unnamed senator who had taken the maximum $5,000 monthly allowance and purportedly spent all of it on charity. Wonderful. Where are the receipts, so we also may celebrate his generosity?