By Troy Torres
(Tumon, Guam) While receipts detailing Gov. Ralph Torres's misuse of public funds were disclosed by the Governor's Office, Republican members of the Commonwealth House of Representatives are refusing to disclose their receipts.
Eleven of the 14 Republicans in the House sent identical Open Government Act responses to Kandit denying the disclosure of receipts of purchases made from the monthly $2,500 to $5,000 allowance each House member is eligible to receive.
The Republican majority members who refused to disclose the receipts of their purchases using public money include:
Speaker Blas Jonathan Attao
Vice Speaker Lorenzo Deleon Guerrero
Floor Leader John Paul Sablan
Interestingly, Mr. Sablan previously told reporters that he does not avail of the monthly allowance, though he has refused to disclose receipts of his purchases made from the monthly allowance.
The template letter responding to Kandit's OGA request states that the requirement for members of the Legislature to keep receipts of their purchases made from the monthly allowance was set by the Legislature's rules and therefore are not disclosable in the eyes of the Commonwealth's Open Government Act.
Three members of the independent minority - Ed Propst, Tina Sablan, and Edmund Villagomez - responded and disclosed that they do not take the monthly allowance. The other three minority members - Sheila Babauta, Richard Lizama, and Donald Manglona - did not receive Kandit's OGA via email. Kandit has reached out to the minority to distribute our request for public documents.
The Republican majority has been slow to react to a mounting call for an investigation into and impeachment of Mr. Torres for misuse of public funds based on black-and-white evidence that has surfaced. Much of this evidence includes reimbursement memos and receipts evidencing personal purchases without a public purpose for which Mr. Torres was reimbursed with the Commonwealth's money.
The legislative allowances are no different a matter of public accountability and, arguably, should be held to a higher standard of monitoring because the public money is advanced to the legislators, not reimbursed.
Kandit is awaiting a response from the Department of Finance to a separate OGA filed December 26, 2019, demanding public records of the disbursement of public funds to each member of the Commonwealth Legislature.
Kandit also is awaiting the disclosure of receipts from every member of the Commonwealth Senate. No senator has responded to the OGA, also sent December 26, 2019.
The OGA requires disclosure of the documents within 10 days of the filing of OGA demands for information. The tenth day for compliance to these demands is this Sunday, January 5, 2020.
Below is the letter from the speaker and one other letter received by Kandit that we randomly chose to show you that the letters are from a template. All the letters sent by the Republican majority contain the exact verbiage: