Bill would require statehood delegates to file financial reports

By The Star Staff

The Federal Relations Committee in the island House of Representatives on Wednesday marked up a bill that would require the six pro-statehood congressional delegates to submit financial reports to the Government Ethics Office (GEO).

The legislation would classify the delegates as public servants of Puerto Rico. They would earn a salary of $120,000 per year, but that money was not allocated in the fiscal year 2022 budget approved by the Legislature on Tuesday night.

House Bill 807 was filed, according to its explanatory memorandum, due to the lack of “safeguards” for overseeing the execution of the officials under Act 167-2020, the law that enabled the election of the lobbyists.

“This bill seeks the highest degree of transparency among all public servants,” said Federal Relations Committee Chairman Kebin Maldonado Martiz. “During the process of [public] hearings, that was the common denominator that was given to the elected congressional delegates.”

“With this [bill] we give shape to, we strengthen the audit process,” the legislator added.

“Beyond all [other considerations], [it must be] a transparent process so that the country and all citizens have access to information on how these people are earning their money; if there is a conflict of interest or not between their jobs and their new tasks as congressional delegates.”

Maldonado Martiz stressed that during the public hearings, the bill had the endorsement of the minority New Progressive Party delegation. However, the GEO had reservations with the measure and suggested an amendment to Act 167 to require the ethics reports from the delegates through that statute, since it establishes that the delegates will be in office until Dec. 31, 2024.

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