PDP House candidate to Méndez Núñez: ‘Face up and speak the truth’

Torres Reyes: Unheard of that House speaker charges $3 per page to access public information

By Pedro Correa Henry

Twitter: @PCorreaHenry

Special to The Star

Popular Democratic Party (PDP) at-large candidate for the House of Representatives Yaramary Torres Reyes on Monday demanded that House Speaker Carlos “Johnny” Méndez Núñez provide transparency and access to invoices, payrolls, and contracts in legislative offices after signing an administrative order that attaches a charge to requests for official public documents from the government.

Torres Reyes said Méndez should not keep dodging the issue but instead should “face up and speak the truth.” She called on the House leader to explain why he signed the order and “consented to highly questionable salaries and kept silent about many of the irregularities in the offices of several New Progressive Party [NPP] legislators.”

“It is shameful and outrageous that the House speaker, Johnny Méndez, in an attempt to maintain the leadership that he has lost to his spokesman Gabriel Rodríguez Aguiló, seeks to hide information paid for with public funds using the collection of documents as a barrier to prevent access to them,” Torres Reyes said.

As the Star reported on Sunday, Administrative Order 2020-016, which was signed on Sept. 15, established costs for providing requested public information. Charges per photocopied page are 50¢ and $1 (for a “simple” and certified copy, respectively), and an additional $2 per page for digital copies.

“It is a shame that Méndez has put a price on the copies of files that are requested, especially when it is of the utmost importance that the invoices of the contractors are made public so that the people can evaluate how contractors, like Oriol Campos, advise more than five representatives at the same time, generating, so far, $1,262,397.50 in this four-year term,” Torres Reyes said.

Back on Sept. 17 the Star reported that Torres Reyes referred Campos, who is currently Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González’s campaign treasurer, to the island Justice Department for alleged kickback schemes as Campos, through his for-profit corporation OC Strategic Advisors LLC, has been awarded 46 contracts from the House of Representatives for both consulting and contracting services since January 2017.

The PDP House candidate also released documents that she said show Campos Hernández donated up to $15,850 from February 2017, a month after he began working at the Capitol, until December 2019 to NPP legislators such as Yashira Lebrón, Ángel Peña, Antonio “Tony” Soto, Urayoán Hernández, Félix Lasalle Toro, Jacqueline Rodríguez Hernández, Johnathan Alemán Arce, Gabriel Rodríguez Aguiló and María Milagros Charbonier, who was arrested by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents back on Aug. 17 for alleged involvement in conspiracy; theft, bribery and kickbacks concerning programs receiving federal funds; and honest services wire fraud.

“Méndez’s silence creates too much suspicion and questions about the real reasons for signing an order just one month after the arrests of representatives María Milagros ‘Tata’ Charbonier and Nelson del Valle, in addition to the multiple cases of employees with exorbitant salaries,” Torres Reyes said. “We do not understand what the fear is of opening the House’s books so that the people know what every penny they contribute as taxpayers is spent on. If there is nothing to hide or fear, show your face and respond to the country.”

Torres Reyes reiterated that, among the PDP candidates, “there is a commitment so that the next House of Representatives has a web page where all the information related to expenses is published, as does the United States Congress.”