Bill filed to prohibit high gov’t officials from partaking in partisan political activities
By John McPhaul
Senate President José Luis Dalmau Santiago has drafted a bill prohibiting all members of the governor’s cabinet and all heads of agencies that implement public policy from participating in partisan political activities.
The bill seeks to establish the rules of limitation for the participation of certain government officials in partisan political activities in the jurisdiction of Puerto Rico and the United States.
Dalmau Santiago’s bill establishes that the participation of agency heads in partisan political activities must be clearly and forcefully separated from their role as public administrators.
“Our people cannot tolerate [that others keep] confusing the role of government agencies with political activities,” the Senate leader said. “When government management is confused with partisan activities or political proselytism and the government entity … and the resources of the people are used for those ends or purposes, democracy and the faith of the people in their institutions are also damaged.”
Dalmau Santiago said the limitation exists to date for only four government officials: the secretaries of Justice, Education and the Treasury, and the Police commissioner.
“We see that this limitation is insufficient as a barrier to government corruption,” he said. “Recently the public has seen how agency heads have been used to raise [funds for] and finance political parties and candidates.”
“Although honesty and values should be an essential part of every official, it is important to legislate so that it is crystal clear that the participation of these officials in partisan political affairs will be prohibited at all times,” Dalmau Santiago continued. “No exceptions or excuses. This is intolerable in a democratic society. The government must have honest public officials dedicated to managing public affairs without pressure, threats, or interference from partisan political interests.”
“Public funds and resources are for services to our people; the government function does not tolerate the diversion of money and the use of the powers and access of each administrative entity of government for campaigns instead of to change the lives of our people,” said Dalmau Santiago, who is also the Popular Democratic Party president. “Transparency cannot have nuances or exceptions.”