Updated: Mar 31, 2020
By Nancy I. Maanao
If it looks like Kandit News Group has been completely ostracized by Governor’s communications team, you are not imagining it.
As the island reels at the prospect of more confirmed infections and deaths as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Office of the Governor has almost completely shut out Kandit News from asking the Leon Guerrero Administration the tough questions no other local news organization is willing to ask. Kandit has also been absent from participating in all of the governor’s daily press conferences. This is, as it turns out, deliberate.
At least two credible and highly placed Kandit News sources inside the administration confirmed today it is because of one person: long-time political hack, Carlo Branch –a staffer tasked to serve as Adelup’s “Chief Policy Advisor.”
“He basically ordered communications staff to ignore Kandit News inquiries,” one source said, adding that not inviting Kandit to participate in the governor’s teleconferences was by his order as well.
This pattern of behavior by administration officials began months ago, according to Kandit News Group’s President Troy Torres.
“Since his appointment to the administration in September, officials from the Governor’s office have routinely ignored our inquiries –some of which were made under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA),” Torres said.
In fact, according to Kandit’s sources, Branch told Gov. Leon Guerrero: “Don’t worry, Kandit won’t do anything about it,” referring to the FOIAs. Torres said a complaint has already been drafted, but the outbreak has put a temporary delay to the lawsuits against all of them.
Mike Cruz for Lieutenant Governor
According to one source, Branch has also seemed to take a cavalier attitude with respect to his new role and this is concerning given the gravity of the situation facing Guam.
“Instead of crafting a message and pushing out positive work being done by the governor (Branch) instead spends his days convincing the governor that she is being portrayed in a positive light by all the media and convincing her that her ‘polling numbers’ are extremely high,” a source said. “With no training or experience on the executive level in emergency response or pandemic training (Branch) brags that he is leading the government response with Dr. Mike Cruz and that everyone reports to him and Dr Mike.”
According to one of Kandit’s sources, the governor appointing Guam Regional Medical City President and former Lieutenant Governor, Dr. Mike Cruz, as her chief medical adviser on the outbreak and state surgeon, was Branch's idea.
The source said it was Branch’s idea because “(he) wants Lou to dump Josh”—referring to the current Lieutenant Governor. Branch worked for and played a pivotal role in Cruz's failed bid for governor in 2010.