By Troy Torres
(Tumon, Guam) More evidence of illegal first class travel and discrepancies in official representation has surfaced against Gov. Ralph Torres. The documents leaked to Kandit today also show the governor was paid thousands in per diem for a personal vacation in Boise, Idaho. This time, the total cost to the taxpayers just for his travel and travel-related expenses was: $7,814.50
Mr. Torres took nearly a month-long trip, leaving Saipan on October 7, 2017, and returning to Saipan October 28, 2017. His airfare, which included 11 first- and business-class seats through Tokyo, Honolulu, Seattle, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Detroit, and Boise cost the CNMI taxpayers $3,423.
His per diem cost the taxpayers even more than the airfare itself: $4,391.50. Per diem is the daily rate paid to officials of the government who are conducting business off island for the government. During his trip, the governor stayed at his personal residence in Boise, Idaho for 10 days without any official business on behalf of the Commonwealth. He was paid $200 per day while there.
The Commonwealth's law on official representation states that travel justification must include the names of people and organizations the official will meet, as well as the public purpose of the visit.
Mr. Torres's travel authorization states, "To meet with several Congressional Officials and Department of Defense Officials on CW issues and to meet with Mr. Gary Kuwabara on Military Issues. TRAVEL WILL BE PERFORMED IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE CNMI."
Of the 16 days the governor was off island, he transited through Tokyo, Honolulu, and Atlanta before staying three nights in Washington, D.C. He left Washington October 11, transiting through Detroit, then staying in Seattle. On October 13 he left Seattle and landed in Boise, staying there 11 nights before making his way back to Saipan and arriving October 28.
Mr. Kuwabara is the director of the Office of Economic Adjustment with the Department of Defense. His office is in San Francisco. Mr. Torres neither visited nor transited through San Francisco.