VIDEO: Cruz Continues Probe of Airport Legal Fees

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Guam – (Oct. 24) – Following receipt and meticulous accounting of hundreds of pages of scanned billings, checks, and invoices for legal services at the Airport, Vice Speaker Benjamin J.F. Cruz continues his probe to account for $1.3 million in payments for legal services rendered by the Guam International Airport Authority in FY 2013.

In a Freedom of Information Act request that that was delivered to GIAA Executive Manager Charles H. Ada II earlier this afternoon, Cruz writes that the Airport’s last FOIA response, received October 21, 2013, was incomplete.

The documents, which were sent in response to a September 27 FOIA letter, should have included, among other requested information, all billing statements and all checks for bills paid pursuant to the legal service agreement between GIAA and the law firm of Calvo, Fisher & Jacob. 

However, the documents provided by GIAA only accounted for 37 percent of the hours of legal work billed and only 32 percent of all costs for legal services for GIAA in FY 2013 as indicated in the previous FOIA response.

“While your original FOIA response dated September 23, 2013, indicates that [GIAA] paid approximately $1.3 million for 6,317 hours of legal work in FY13,” Cruz said in the letter, “this most recent FOIA response only provided copies of billings, checks and invoices that accounted for 2,320 hours and $418,666.08.”

Of the $1.3 million figure that GIAA provided in the Sept. 23 FOIA, about 69 percent of that amount could not be accounted for the invoices included in the Oct. 21 FOIA. The checks provided only accounted for about 80 percent of this amount, and 20 percent of these checks did not have receipts of payment. Of the 6317.75 hours billed as indicated in the Sept. 23 FOIA, only 2020.7 attorney hours and 249.3 assistant hours were accounted for in the invoices provided in the
Oct. 21 FOIA, with 3997.75 hours for which are unaccounted.

Table 2. Breakdown of Airport Legal Costs from Checks and Invoices provided in GIAA FOIA response dated October 21, 2013.

Cruz also noted that the October 21 response did not provide accompanying invoices for four checks totaling $657,584.04 for legal services related to retail concessions that were performed during the months of April, May, June, and August of this year.

Cruz’s latest FOIA request is for “all checks, bank transfers, and/or payments in any form, equating to a cumulative $1.3 million in payments” and “all legal billings and/or invoices equating to a cumulative 6,317 hours in legal work”, as indicated in GIAA’s September 23 FOIA response.

“$800,000 just doesn’t disappear; GIAA’s own records show $1.3 million was paid in legal fess but they can only account for 400,000,” said Cruz. “My experience tells me when something feels wrong, it likely is wrong, and I want to know why.”

The Vice Speaker’s continued inquiry into legal fees paid by the GIAA is part of his latest efforts to promote more cost-effective alternatives to expensive private attorneys. Cruz and bill co-sponsor Senator Tom Ada introduced legislation early last September that mandates the employ of unclassified in-house counsel for government agencies and autonomous public corporations permitted to retain outside counsel under existing law.   

READ Senator Cruz’s FOIA request to GIAA GM Chuck Ada below:

October 24, 2013
Sent via Hand Delivery

Charles H. Ada II
Executive Manager
Guam International Airport Authority
355 Chalan Pasaheru, Route 10A
Tamuning, Guam 96931

Re: Freedom of Information Act Request (Provision of Incomplete Documentation)

Dear Mr. Ada:

Thank you for your prompt response to my most recent Freedom of Information Act request. However, I am still in need of records that have been lawfully requested but not provided.

After a review of all records provided to me by the Guam International Airport Authority on October 21, 2013, I am left with unanswered questions. While your original FOIA response dated September 23, 2013, indicates that it paid approximately $1.3 million for 6,317 hours of legal work in FY13, this most recent FOIA response only provided copies of billings, checks and invoices that accounted for 2,320 hours and
$418,666.08.

Additionally, the last response did not provide accompanying invoices for four checks totaling $657,584.04 for Retail Concession-related legal services performed during the months of April, May, June, and August of 2013.

As such, I am forced to reiterate my request. I know you will extend the same courtesy and professionalism as you have with our previous requests.

Pursuant to the authority granted by § 10103 of Chapter 10 of Division 1 of Title 5 of the Guam Code Annotated, the “Freedom of Information Act”, I hereby request a copy of the following public record(s):

1. All checks, bank transfers, and/or payments in any form, equating to a cumulative $1.3 million in payments, as indicated by GIAA’s FOIA response dated September 23, 2013, appended hereto.

2. All legal billings and/or invoices equating to a cumulative 6,317 hours in legal work as indicated by GIAA’s prior FOIA response dated September 23, 2013, appended hereto.

The information requested above may be submitted via electronic mail to senator@senatorbjcruz.com or carlo.branch@senatorbjcruz.com. You may also contact my office at 477-2520 for assistance.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to your timely response.

Respectfully,

Benjamin J.F. Cruz

GIAA FY 2013 Total Cost $1,347,536.71

invoices provided 31.07% $418,666.08

without invoices 68.93% $928,870.63

without payment reciept 20.13% $271,286.59

GIAA FY 2013 Total Hours 6,317.75

attorney hours identified in invoices 36.72% 2,070.70

assistant hours identified in invoices 249.30

hours not accounted for 63.28% 3,997.75

Checks 79.87% $1,076,250.12