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Gov’t Ethics Office hits Mayagüez mayor with nepotism complaint


By The Star Staff


The Puerto Rico Government Ethics Office (OEG by its Spanish initials) has filed a complaint against Mayagüez Mayor José Guillermo Rodríguez Rodríguez for appointing his brother, Osvaldo Rodríguez Rodríguez, to jobs in the western coastal city without requesting the proper authorization from the OEG.


According to the complaint filed July 23, but reported Monday, the mayor made three appointments -- in different years -- to place his brother in positions of trust, which constitutes violations of the Government Ethics Act.


“They are appointments that benefit a person with whom the defendant (the mayor) has a consanguinity tie, without the Puerto Rico Government Ethics Office authorizing such appointments,” indicates the complaint filed by the OEG.


When making appointments, the mayor, according to the document, engaged in conduct prohibited by Article 4.1 of Act 1-2012, which provides that “an official may not use his duties and powers of his position or property or public funds to obtain directly or indirectly, any benefit prohibited by law,” as well as not intervening in the appointment of a relative or taking an action that calls into question “the impartiality and integrity of the government function.”


The GEO is imposing a $20,000 fine for each of the violations. The mayor has 20 days to answer the allegations of the complaint.


The mayor’s alleged infractions, as detailed in the complaint, date back to April 23, 2001, when Rodríguez asked the Office of the Commissioner for Municipal Affairs of Puerto Rico (OCAM by its Spanish acronym) for an authorization or dispensation to appoint his brother to a position of trust in the municipality as a community development assistant. On May 2 of that year, Bárbara M. Sanfiorenzo Zaragaosa, then OCAM commissioner, granted the dispensation for the appointment of Rodríguez as director of community development of the municipality of Mayagüez and warned the mayor that in the event that his brother was appointed to another position, he had to request another dispensation.


However, in July 2001, the administration and granting of waivers passed to the OEG.


On April 3, 2013, the mayor reappointed his brother to a position of trust without the authorization of the OEG. He also failed to seek dispensations on Feb. 28, 2017 and most recently on Jan. 15, 2021.


According to the law, the mayor could reappoint his brother to a position in the municipality if there were exceptional circumstances evaluated by the OEG leadership, but these were not presented.

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