Governor: Abrupt rejection of appointees a ‘sad thing’

By John McPhaul

Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced expressed herself in a hurt and indignant tone Tuesday in a radio interview concerning the actions of the island Senate in rejecting the nominations of Maritere Brignoni Mártir for the Puerto Rico Supreme Court and Kermit Lucena Zabala for commonwealth comptroller.

“They [Brignoni Mártir and Lucena Zabala] were aware of what was happening and obviously I did not make the appointments without speaking with them and explaining it to them,” Vázquez said in an interview with Rubén Sánchez on WKAQ 580 AM. “They both trusted their career path, that if they were given the opportunity to present their qualifications they could show the people of Puerto Rico that they had the merits, but they [senators] did not give them that opportunity.”

“The senators as of today [Tuesday], none, none, I doubt very much can tell you the qualifications that these two candidates had because they did not give them the opportunity,” the governor said. “And yes, they have all the power not to confirm them, that is their constitutional power and I respect it. But they did not give the opportunity to these two professionals, who in the midst of this maelstrom gave the Puerto Rican people a vote of confidence to serve the people. So that’s the sad thing.”

The outgoing governor confirmed that in the days that remain in her term, she will not make any more nominations.

“I am not going to appoint anyone else because I am not going to expose any other professional to this process,” Vázquez said. “And it’s not [about] the people they [senators] want. … It just doesn’t work that way. Who designates and who appoints is the governor. That is in the Constitution. And the advice and consent is in the Senate, or the House, if it goes to the House as well. But I am not going to expose any more professionals to this process.”

“I think it was very unfair, painful and sad for the constitutional process in Puerto Rico. And at this moment I do not foresee that there could be another determination that is not that this is over,” the governor added.

Vázquez made a point of saying that she had discussed the nominations with governor-elect Pedro Pierliuisi, who also presides over the New Progressive Party, to which the governor belongs.

“This is not a decision that I am out there in the dark on, without consulting with anyone, because he will be the governor starting January 2,” she said. “We have discussed it. So, very sadly, we wanted it to be done in the best way, but it couldn’t be.”

On Monday, the Senate rejected Lucena Zabala’s appointment to the comptroller post and asked that Brignoni Mártir’s appointment as associate justice of the Supreme Court be removed.

Brignoni Mártir, a sitting appeals court judge, asked the governor to withdraw her appointment. Vázquez complied.

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