‘I really am an open book’: Amid campaign financing flap, governor insists he broke no law
By The Star Staff
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia insisted on Tuesday that he did not break the law amid allegations of some kind of coordination between his political campaign and the super political action committee (PAC), Salvemos a Puerto Rico (Save Puerto Rico).
On Monday, a sound recording was made public that points to such a possible coordination. Ricky Castro, owner of Castro Business Enterprises, which has the concession for the military stores of the National Guard Trust, says in the recording that his lawyer Andrés Guillemard, who is Pierluisi’s brother-in-law, instructed him to donate to the Save Puerto Rico super PAC. Guillemard’s wife, Caridad Pierluisi, worked in her brother’s campaign for governor.
Another media outlet reported that Pierluisi’s friend Joseph Fuentes Fernández, who pleaded guilty recently to federal charges of falsifying, concealing, or concealing by scheme, the identity of the donors who contributed $495,000 to the Save Puerto Rico campaign against Pierluisi’s rivals in the 2020 election campaign, was wearing a wire and recorded conversations.
Through statements to the press made after announcing the delivery of new fleet vehicles to the Puerto Rico Police Bureau, the governor also gave assurances that if there was indeed any illegality, the penalty would be a fine. He also said that although he had never attended an activity organized by Save Puerto Rico, it would not have been illegal if he had done so.
Pierluisi said there is nothing in the law that prevents a candidate from appearing in PAC fundraising activities.
“The candidate can go; the candidate and his team can even refer corporations that want to donate [to the PAC]. All of that is legal. It is recognized by the FEC, the Federal Election Commission,” the governor said at Tuesday’s press conference. “In other words, they are trying to find a violation of the law where there is none. The only violation of the law that occurred and is well outlined, in the ‘information’ that was released to the public, and in the guilty plea, was providing false information to a federal entity. In this case, the Federal Election Commission.”
“If they want to continue to go around this, they will end up in the same place because there can be no other illegality,” he added. “And I even explained something very important; there was no coordination, but if there was, the only penalty is monetary. And there wasn’t. There is no penalty of a criminal nature.”
After questions from the press, Pierluisi said he spent time with Fuentes Fernández a few months ago. According to federal documents, Fuentes Fernández was in contact with federal investigators since at least May 2021, so Pierluisi’s meeting with his friend could have occurred when he was already cooperating with federal authorities.
The governor said he was calm, expressing no concerns about the possibility that he had been recorded by his friend.
“I really am an open book. I am very outgoing and always speak properly,” he said. “We are human and we can make mistakes, but I have a clear conscience. … Nowadays with cell phones that are recording everywhere, that is, it doesn’t make a difference. I am acting as I should act as governor and here there is no type of investigation that concerns me in the least or anyone around me. Never in my life have I been under investigation. If someone wants to start now they can do it, but it seems to me that they are going to fail.”
Pierluisi could not specify how many times Fuentes Fernández was at La Fortaleza or the governor’s other properties in Fajardo and Cayey.
“Hundreds of people flock to La Fortaleza,” he said. “And again, that is inconsequential because it has not resulted in anything and it will not result in anything.”