Updated: Dec 15, 2019
By Johnnie Rosario
(Tumon, Guam) Gov. Ralph Torres and his bodyguards had dinner at Bourbon Steak restaurant in Washington, D.C. on April 4, 2017 with Corey Lewandowski. The people of the Commonwealth paid $1,823.90 for this one dinner.
Mr. Lewandowski is internationally infamous for his role in the election of President Trump in 2016, and his dance with Congress and federal investigators that, ironically, includes testimony before Congress that led to the impeachment inquiry against Mr. Trump.
Part of the Congressional inquiry involves what Mr. Lewandowski told the special federal prosecutor, Robert Mueller, regarding what he knew of Mr. Trump's involvement in Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Mr. Torres is facing similar federal heat for his role in Chinese interference in the Presidential election.
The catch-22 the governor faces regarding his dinner with Mr. Lewandoski is that if the governor had the taxpayers paid for the dinner because they were discussing government business, then the discussions at that table with a Washington lobbyists with direct ties to Mr. Trump under the microscope for violations of federal law would raise some significant questions from federal investigators.
But if the governor says that he did not discuss lobbying matters in the interest of the CNMI, then he would need to explain to the Office of the Public Auditor and likely to the CNMI House of Representatives why he had the taxpayers pay for an $1,823.90 personal dinner in Washington.
The dinner party dined on a $96 bison tomahawk, a $285 trio, an $89 rib eye steak, a $74 pot pie, and a $60 large tuna dinner. They ate a $24 shrimp cocktail as an appetizer, along with octopus and something called burrata. They washed down their meals with five bottles of Fiji water that cost the Commonwealth $50 before having two sundaes, and one smores dessert for a total of $45.
The alcohol they consumed cost nearly as much as their food. They waxed three bottles and four glasses of Duke's pinot noir for a total $560. Someone had a different glass of wine: a $15 sauternes. But that wasn't enough; they also consumed two bottles of Grey Goose vodka, and two bottles of Spiced Koala at a total $56.
Mr. Torres sent a reimbursement memo to then-Secretary of Finance Larissa Larson on May 5, 2017. He was reimbursed by the Commonwealth for the full amount shortly after.
UPDATE: Patricia Guerrero, Saipan resident, commented below, She provided critical links to stories, however, the links don't display in the comments section. So, we are re-posting her comment in this story so that the links display:
Is it possible that Governor Torres met and had dinner with Mr. Lewandoski and his lobbyist partners (Mr. Jason Osborne and possibly Mr. Mike Rubino) all paid on the public dime, to protect the interests of the casino investor and NOT the best interests of Marianas People? Was the dinner meeting an “official representation” of a “public purpose” and a “public interest” of the People’s Government and its right owners, We the Publikon Marianas? Just asking questions as inquiring minds would like to know.
In addition, you might also recall there is an existing consultancy services contract between the CNMI People’s Government through the Office of the Governor and Turnberry Solutions of which Mr. Jason Osborne is one of the partners of Turnberry Solutions, a Washington, D.C. based lobbying firm. Is it also possible that the CNMI Government is paying office rental to Mr. Lewandoski for Turnberry Solutions since the lobbying firm is housed in Mr. Lewandoski’s building of which Mr. Lewandoski shares space with Turnberry Solutions whenever he’s in town? Again, just asking a question for inquiring minds of taxpayers out here in our small islands, Great Commonwealth community.
Now, let’s take a read of the news articles in connection with Mr. Lewandoski and Mr. Osborne.
That being presented to the readers, let’s take a read of the CNMI Department of Finance’s agency specific regulations with respect to “official representation” expenditures and “public purpose” definition as codified in the NMI Administrative Codes.
Thank you for stopping by and according me a minute of your time to read my post. I hope you find it with great interest for an informed community and audience.
The consent of the governed does NOT give absolute power to the governing...
Government of the People, by the People, for the People