• The San Juan Daily Star

Governor confirms meeting with congressional delegate on her partner’s pardon

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi, center, acknowledged that congressional delegate for statehood Elizabeth Torres Rodríguez, second from right, asked for a one-on-one meeting at which her partner Edwin Domínguez’s conditional pardon was addressed.

By Pedro Correa Henry

Twitter: @pete_r_correa

Special to The STAR

In the midst of a clash between congressional delegates Elizabeth Torres Rodríguez and Melinda Romero Donnelly after Torres claimed in a radio interview that the delegation formed to seek statehood for Puerto Rico was a “mirage to further advance the NPP [New Progressive Party] agenda,” Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia acknowledged Tuesday that Torres asked for a one-on-one meeting to pursue a modification of her partner Edwin Domínguez’s conditional pardon.

This statement comes after Romero Donnelly stated Monday night on television program “Jugando Pelota Dura” that she hoped Torres was not using her post only for her boyfriend to obtain a full pardon, adding that Torres requested the meeting with the governor earlier this year “not to talk about delegate affairs.”

“She did on one occasion bring to my attention the complaint that the conditions imposed on her partner are totally unreasonable,” the governor said, even though he was unable to confirm if the meeting was held before or after Torres was sworn in as a statehood lobbyist in July.

Pierluisi also said he “received and listened to” Torres’ concerns about her partner’s conditional pardon and allocated staff members from La Fortaleza to communicate with Torres and advise him whether or not to change the conditions imposed on Domínguez by then-governor Wanda Vázquez Garced last Dec. 31.

Domínguez was serving a five-year prison sentence for violating a protection order issued on behalf of former Citizens Victory Movement gubernatorial candidate Alexandra Lúgaro’s daughter.

Domínguez was also sentenced to three years in prison for failure to comply with protection orders under Law 54, the Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention Law, involving Lúgaro herself.

Among the conditions, which Pierluisi characterized as “very onerous,” Domínguez cannot communicate, address, or relate directly or indirectly, or by any means of communication or electronic media, with the injured parties or their relatives. In addition, he must remain under house arrest for a term of two years.

Regarding Torres’ comments, in which she also criticized Pierluisi and his administration for “having no interest in listening to the voice of the majority,” the governor insisted that her statements were possibly taken out of context. However, he said if any of the delegates back away from their duty to seek statehood, “it’s not going to be me, it’s going to be hundreds of thousands who are going to complain about it.”

When the STAR asked if Torres’ comments would take a toll on the NPP’s reputation, and if she was using her post to strengthen her far-right social media platform, La Premisa Inarticulada, a Facebook page where she was known for her stance against the state of emergency due to gender violence and for inflammatory takes on the island’s feminist, anti-racist and LGBTQ+ sectors, Pierluisi said he has never believed “in challenging party members” over ideological differences.

However, he noted that if an elected official from the party “has failed the people, has violated the law, that’s when we ask them to resign from all those positions.”

This would not be the first time Torres has taken aim at the statehood agenda as, on Aug. 15, during a march in which churches and far-right organizations protested against the so-called “gender dictatorship,” she also said that although she was elected to lobby in Congress for the island’s admission to the United States as a state of the union, she was also elected “by a sector that wants a conservative state.”

“I was not elected to abandon this fight that is more important than the fight for statehood,” she claimed during a Facebook live stream at the protest.

Meanwhile, Popular Democratic Party Rep. Orlando Aponte, who chairs the House of Representatives Legal Committee, filed House Resolution 534, which aims to hold the six statehood lobbyists ”accountable for their work, since they receive salary and reimbursable expenses paid by the people of Puerto Rico.”

“These six people, [former governor] Ricardo Rosselló Nevares, Melinda Romero Donnelly, Elizabeth Torres Rodríguez, Roberto Lefranc Fortuño, Zoraida Buxó Santiago and María [“Mayita”] Meléndez Altieri, must account to the country for their plans, work, and their expenses,” Aponte said in a press release. “Each one of them costs us $90,000 annually plus $30,000 in reimbursable expenses and with no limit on the generation of private income.”

“Independently, and leaving aside the accusations of unconstitutionality due to the delegation of ‘ultra vires’ powers to the Executive Branch, this Legislative Assembly budgeted large sums of money to achieve the objective imposed in [the] law [that created the pro-statehood congressional delegation] and the use of public funds must be supervised responsibly,” Aponte Rosario added, noting that a poll from El Vocero de Puerto Rico stated that 81% of its readers considered the delegates’ work to be “deficient.”

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