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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

PDP demands NPP explain feds’ SEC visit; electoral commissioner responds

Popular Democratic Party Secretary General Gerardo Cruz Maldonado

By John McPhaul

Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Secretary General Gerardo “Toñito” Cruz Maldonado asked State Elections Commission (SEC) Chairwoman Jessika Padilla on Monday to explain the reasons why federal authorities visited the SEC last Friday.

“We have information that the federal authorities met with the chair of the SEC and the Commission’s legal adviser in the area known as JAVAA-PNP, that is, in the area of the New Progressive Party [NPP] in the Absentee Voting and Early Voting Administrative Board,” Cruz Maldonado said in a written statement. “For years in the PDP we have been denouncing irregularities in absentee voting and early voting in the previous elections and we believe that a visit by federal authorities specifically to this division is of utmost importance in terms of the transparency that should permeate a matter like this.”

Cruz Maldonado, who is also the PDP’s alternate electoral commissioner, noted that during their visit the federal authorities met with the NPP work team in JAVAA and that NPP Electoral Commissioner Vanessa Santo Domingo joined the meeting.

Santo Domingo issued a statement in response.

“Toñito Cruz is unaware of the information or has little retention,” she said. “He does not participate in the Commission meetings, arrives late or does not go at all. And now, he comes to try to divert attention from the defeat suffered by the Popular Party Saturday in the Democratic Special Election. If I had been at the Commission meeting last Thursday along with the rest of the election commissioners, I would have been aware of the outcome of the federal investigation requested by my Office in the September 2022 special election. Last Friday, we held a meeting with federal officials about the case filed due to irregularities in the delivery of postal mail containing ballots. To clarify, it was the NPP that requested the meeting.”

Cruz Maldonado had pointed out in his statement that “Friday’s visit by federal authorities was not the first in the past six months.”

“This type of visit raises all kinds of conjectures about the personnel of all political parties and the motivations for these visits must be explained,” he said. “The people of Puerto Rico should know the reasons for the meeting with federal authorities. I request that the SEC President and the NPP Electoral Commissioner make known the reasons for the visit. They can’t hide or pretend to go under the radar with such an important issue. It’s time for them to talk.”

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