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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Dignity Project lawmaker’s office manager resigns over alleged misuse of public property

Janise Santiago

By John McPhaul

The office manager for Dignity Project Rep. Lisie Burgos Muñiz resigned Thursday amid accusations that Burgos Muñiz used public resources for graduation ceremonies of a private school belonging to the office manager, Janise Santiago.

Santiago’s resignation came after a former New Progressive Party official, Alan McAbee González, called for an ethics complaint against Burgos Muñiz when it came to light that Santiago is the owner of a corporation that runs the Kids Kingdom and James Christian Academy, which held its graduation last June on the Capitol grounds complete with the use of Legislative Assembly property and equipment.

“Several days ago it came to light that the manager of the office of Rep. Burgos, Mrs. Janise Santiago, requested last year, through said office, from the speaker of the House, 50 chairs, sound equipment and the use of employees, including photographers, videographers and sound technicians, among others, from the House to celebrate the graduation of the Kids Kingdom & James Christian Academy, which Santiago owns,” McAbee said in a written statement. “This is a clear example of using the resources of the people of Puerto Rico for personal benefit and gain and warrants an exhaustive investigation and severe sanctions.”

McAbee said the matter was substantiated by a letter requesting equipment and employees for the high school’s graduation in June 2021 (a letter signed by Santiago making the request was sent to the Office of the House Speaker on April 27, 2021), as well as confirmation that Santiago is the owner of the school.

“This is a simple case of personal gain with the money of the People of Puerto Rico,” McAbee said. “Yesterday, Representative Burgos admitted that Mrs. Santiago, her office manager, is the owner of the aforementioned school and that she, as office manager, requested the use of the people’s equipment for the benefit of her business. Nothing could be more clear. The Speaker of the House has to act, and now.”

“If Hernández does not act, others must act and put the honor and respect of the Legislature and the good name of Puerto Rico first by filing a complaint with the Ethics Committee of the House of Representatives,” he added.

In a written statement, Burgos Muñiz said she was unaware that her office manager was also the owner of the school’s corporation.

Burgos Muñiz announced that after carefully evaluating the information that had emerged regarding the school’s graduation on the grounds of the House of Representatives, she discussed the matter with Santiago, who decided to resign from her job effective immediately.

“Mrs. Santiago has worked as manager of my office and has fully complied with the delegated functions for which she has received her salary since her hiring until today,” the lawmaker said. “However, we as public officials and members of our party have adopted a standard of ethical conduct that goes above and beyond what is required by law.”

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