House speaker confirms Legislature is under investigation by feds
By John McPhaul
Speaker of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives Carlos “Johnny” Méndez Núñez confirmed on Thursday that there are several ongoing investigations in the House of Representatives, the day after Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents raided the residence of New Progressive Party (NPP) Rep. María Milagros Charbonier.
“Yes, we have always said that there are several investigations ongoing in the Legislative Assembly, in the state forum and the federal forum,” Méndez Núñez told journalists after concluding a caucus meeting of the NPP in the lower house. “The House will always cooperate with the investigations that are being carried out.”
“My call to all colleagues is that in the same way that our colleague [Charbonier] cooperated, all the members of the majority should cooperate with any type of investigation that is ongoing,” he added.
Although he did not elaborate, the House speaker stated that there have been “requests” for information and the information has been provided.
Regarding Wednesday morning’s raid at Charbonier’s Río Grande residence, where both her and her husband’s cell phones were seized, Méndez Núñez said “we will pay attention to everything that may happen at any given time.”
He said he will not remove the legislator from the chairmanship of the House Legal Committee.
“There is no reason to remove her; she is cooperating with that investigation so there is no reason to remove her,” the House leader said.
Méndez Núñez said meanwhile that the investigations are aimed in part at “ghost employees” (people who are paid without doing any work) in the Capitol.
“Basically that’s it. Remember this started when you were talking here that there were ghost employees in the Legislative Assembly,” he said. “And there are processes in the Legislative Assembly that the feds are unaware of, and they have to conclude their investigations to find out if there is something or there is not something.”
The House speaker called the fact that Charbonier has cooperated with the federal investigation “successful.”