Governor: Rosselló’s credibility as statehood lobbyist remains intact

By Pedro Correa Henry

Twitter: @pete_r_correa

Special to The Star

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia said Thursday that neither the judicial process that Ricardo Rosselló Nevares has faced in the Appeals Court nor the Department of Justice investigation into possible electoral and penal code violations on the part of Rosselló and his wife Beatriz will affect the former governor’s work as a congressional delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives.

“They are all focused on the common goal, which is the equality that statehood guarantees,” Pierluisi said in response to questions from the press. “All those voices contribute. All six [congressional delegates] are different, they have their own skill sets and access.”

When asked if Rosselló’s access to members of Congress could be affected by questions about his credibility, Pierluisi replied that “he has ample access in any way, he is well known and knows the issue very well.”

“He can argue in favor of that equality very well, similar to the rest,” he added. “Once again, they complement each other.”

During a press conference near the Martín Peña Channel in San Juan, where Pierluisi held an onsite inspection of the water transmission relocation work for the Borínquen community, Pierluisi said that after Rosselló was sworn in on Wednesday at the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA), “the important thing is that he joins the other five delegates to do their job.”

As for the job, the governor referred to the six delegates elected on May 16 “advocating in Congress and in all available forums for equality for the American citizens of Puerto Rico.”

“PRFAA will support them in whatever they need back in Washington, D.C,” he said. “They will file their reports every 90 days, as the law [167-2020] requires, which I will receive; I want to see that they are working full-time as is required.”

“I welcome the [congressional] delegation, because what they are doing is responding to the people’s votes last November,” Pierluisi added.

Meanwhile, the governor said he did not want to get into what might happen if the island Court of Appeals or Supreme Court should disqualify Rosselló as a statehood lobbyist.

He also said he “did not want to speculate” on the Department of Justice investigation, after press reports stated that prosecutors Rufino Jiménez Cardona and Gretchen Camacho Rossy received two candidate-intention forms last Wednesday with dissimilar versions in which the former governor provided completely different addresses and domiciles.

Both documents, handed over by Popular Democratic Party electoral commissioner Gerardo Cruz, were signed by Rosselló and handed in to the State Elections Commission to fulfill his certification.

“There is an ongoing investigation in the hands of the Department of Justice and there are also some judicial processes,” Pierluisi said. “Each one of those institutions will fulfill its responsibility and, at the appropriate time, one will react.”

‘Unfair to judge’ DNER chief’s work amid calls for him to quit

On a separate matter, Pierluisi said Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) Secretary Rafael Machargo Maldonado still has his trust in the face of calls on Wednesday from environmentalists, islanders and lawmakers for the DNER chief to resign.

“The DNER secretary has a very sensitive and complex job, and it is not fair to judge him for a particular situation,” he said. “There are countless situations that he is constantly facing and here we have to understand that we also have conflicting sectors and he has to find the right balance.”

He added that Machargo has been “very careful to respect the processes that are pending.”

“If there are investigative processes, then let them run their course and reach a happy ending, and then, he will have the last word,” the governor said as Machargo sat next to him.

The DNER secretary remained silent on the matter.

“These positions in the government are not easy and this is not a matter of someone coming here and making a decision that is disliked by a sector of the population and then a resignation follows,” Pierluisi continued. “That cannot be, because that is not how institutions work. Institutions cannot work like that.”

The governor said that if Machargo fails to perform his duties at the DNER, a resignation could be tendered, and “essential services [would] not [be] interrupted.”

“Up to now, this has been the case,” he said.

At press time, the Court of Appeals had ruled to override San Juan Superior Court Judge Rebecca de León’s determination to place on hold the SEC’s certification of Rosselló as a statehood lobbyist, stating that de León had no jurisdiction on the matter.

Moreover, the court denied the legal petition filed by Dignity Project electoral commissioner Nelson Rosario in which he requested that the SEC refrain from certifying a write-in candidate.

“The SEC should have issued a final election certification in which he [Rosselló Nevares] would have been certified as an elected write-in as a special delegate to the federal House of Representatives,” reads the 28-page ruling. “It is from that moment on that Rosselló Nevares is obligated to comply with the requirements.”

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