Minority bloc calls for special investigation of CNMI governor

CNMI Gov. Ralph Torres (PNC file photo)

By Sophia Perez/Marianas Variety/For PNC

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Saipan’s House minority bloc requested on Tuesday morning that House Speaker Blas Attao form a “special investigation committee” to determine whether CNMI Governor Ralph Torres misused public funds, one of a number of allegations prompting the recent FBI raids of the governor’s office, residence, and car.

Minority bloc members wrote in a letter that “the Legislature has a solemn constitutional duty to investigate the allegations and records that have circulated throughout our community…”

They said the FBI raids and the “revelations of lavish and questionable expenses charged by the governor to the people of the Commonwealth have severely eroded public trust and the integrity of our government.”

The minority bloc members added, “We cannot and must not turn a blind eye.”

The letter, which was read before the House by Minority Leader Edwin Propst, was also signed by Reps. Tina Sablan, Edmund Villagomez, Sheila Babauta, Richard Lizama, and Donald Manglona.

Speaker Attao said that such an investigation would require that he send the request to several House committees for consideration. House Floor Leader John Paul Sablan said the House cannot conduct its own investigation while there is an FBI investigation still underway.

As for the governor’s alleged misuse of public funds, he said: “We should allow the experts to conduct an investigation … Creating a special committee based on allegations and
assumptions … I don’t think is right. Let us respect the process.”

“Yes, let’s respect the process,” Rep. Propst agreed. “This is the process.”