Eight senators are potentially facing at least two ethical complaints regarding their support of Bill 122 or the liquid fuel tax increase.
Guam – Eight lawmakers are under fire for voting yes on a controversial bill some believe breaks local law.
Ken Leon Guerrero, the spokesperson for Guam Citizens for Accountability personally drafted a letter to Speaker BJ Cruz calling for Senators Wil Castro, Jim Espaldon, Fernando Esteves, Tommy Morrison, Louise B. Muna, Rodriguez Jr., Joe San Agustin, and Vice Speaker Therese Terlaje to be investigated.
“I’m filing my complaint primarily on three bases; the first basis is our legislature broke the law when they passed Bill 122. The law they broke was PL 24-222.”
The law Leon Guerrero takes issue with is none other than Bill 122, a measure now signed into law that will raise the liquid fuel tax incrementally. However, according to Leon Guerrero, a vote is required by the public during the general election before issuing any debt or raising or filing new taxes.
“And by passing this bill in direct violation of PL 222, they violated the law which is a misdemeanor under GCA,” he argued.
Another letter written in tandem with Leon Guerrero’s was drafted by Darryl Taggerty and focuses on the technicalities that he believes Bill 122 failed to comply with.
He writes: “I wish to file an ethics complaint against the current member of the 34th Guam Legislature for failing to obey the laws of Guam…,failing to use their inherent powers and duty to amend or repeal the Highway fund…, and dispensing discriminatory or special favors to the recipients of the highway fund.”
“Public Law 222 requires voter approval of new debt and new taxes. Part of the reason why GovGuam has such a big problem is the first $80 million of taxes collected goes to paying the debt service,” explains Leon Guerrero.
He added, “Every time one of these bills passes, there’s less money for government services and government payroll.”
But to be clear, Leon Guerrero isn’t against taxes per se, provided the voters approve of it first.
“Well, what I had testified in the legislature was to raise taxes 10 cents per gallon after a public vote and then that 10 cents would be segregated into a specific fund identified by the legislature with an audited report every year proving to the taxpayers that the money that they used was the taxes to repair roads and was actually used to repairs roads –not send mayors to the Philippines for a strawberry festival,” he lamented.
And for the senators who are now potentially facing an ethical complaint?
“Well, these senators know the work that Guam Citizens did in the 2016 election in creating our list of senators that we recommend for the 34th legislature and now we’re working on a new list for the 35th,” Leon Guerrero warned.
He continued, “And one of the things we’re looking at is we’re gonna make senators who respect the public purse and are willing to follow the laws they make…We want them to lead by example.”
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Ethics Committee, Senator Fernando Esteves tells PNC that he has yet to receive an official complaint as all complaints must be filed with a verification statement for it to be valid.
He does note that if the complaint is officially filed, his office will most likely not be the one to receive it as he is one of the eight senators named in the complaint.