“Ethics is a very subjective matter and I try to enlighten people that it’s not the same as law,” Sen. Fernando Esteves said.
Guam – The legislature’s Committee on Ethics and Standards Chairman, Senator Fernando Esteves spoke with PNC today to share the findings of the ethical investigation launched into Senator Jim Espaldon.
After months of closed-door meetings, the legislative committee ended their probe of the Republican lawmaker finding him in violation of the Code of Ethics and Standards.
Subsequently, the committee recommended official censure, removal from leadership positions for the remainder of the legislative term, and 16 hours of refresher ethics in government program for the senator and his staff.
CNMI Representative Ed Propst filed an ethics complaint on May 16 of this year regarding Senator Espaldon’s involvement in a lucrative multi-million dollar procurement project in Saipan.
Propst cited conflict of interest and ethical misconduct, alleging Espaldon received free travel and hotel stays while offering his services in the procurement deal.
“It was actually disclosed that there was some travel paid for by both GPSM and other interested parties with regards to his role with the contract as the negotiator. We found this to be with precedents set with other cases that this is to be something of value,” the Esteves told PNC.
The Ethics Committee considered four potential ethics charges against the senator, but only one ethical violation was found.
“The ethics complaint has been an ordeal for me, my family, and the people of Guam and I am sorry that I have caused them any pain or embarrassment,” said Espaldon in a statement to the media.
Although the investigation is closed, the chairman explains that the matter is not yet over, as Speaker BJ Cruz now has to determine whether or not he will hold a hearing where the legislative body will either accept or reject the Ethics Committee’s resolution.
“Ethics is a very subjective matter and I try to enlighten people that it’s not the same as law. The thresholds are both low and they’re low for a reason. And that’s more of a preventative measure to make sure that people are on the up and up. But that doesn’t necessarily constitute as somebody being a bad person,” he said.