PDP House candidates refer NPP contractor to Justice Dept. for alleged payback scheme

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, joined by PDP House district candidates Noemí Andújar and Roberto Zayas, on Wednesday referred New Progressive Party (NPP) contractor Oriol Campos Hernández to the Department of Justice (DJ) for alleged kickback schemes since the current four-year term began.

At the entrance of DJ headquarters on Jesús T. Piñeiro Avenue, Torres Reyes told press members that Campos Hernández, who is currently NPP Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón’s campaign treasurer, created a for-profit corporation called OC Strategic Advisors LLC on Dec. 3, 2016 at 9:01 p.m. that has obtained $1,262,397.50 through 46 contracts for both consulting and contracting services since January 2017; meanwhile, according to documents provided by Torres Reyes, Campos Hernández has donated up to $15,850 from February 2017 until December 2019 to NPP legislators, including House Speaker Carlos “Johnny” Méndez Nuñez.

“Once this person obtained his contracts, donations likewise were given to different representatives, in this case, Yashira Lebrón, Ángel Peña, even [House] Speaker Carlos ‘Johnny’ Méndez, [Antonio] ‘Tony’ Soto, Urayoán Hernández, and a very interesting name, María Milagros Charbonier, that, as you all know, faces a federal court case for yet another kickback scheme,” Torres Reyes said.

Documents also show that other donations from Campos Hernández were made to NPP Reps. Félix Lasalle Toro, Jacqueline Rodríguez Hernández, Johnathan Alemán Arce and the Friends of Gabriel Rodríguez Aguiló Committee.

“We believe that the time is now for the Puerto Rican people to comprehend that the Legislative Assembly is there to protect their welfare and lives, and not for close friends to get rich from the government’s coffers and to move particular legislators’ election campaigns forward,” Torres Reyes said.

The House candidate said the island justice system must intervene and fully investigate Campos Hernández’s relationship with the NPP. She called on the House speaker to explain “ad nauseam” each contract awarded to prove if the services were provided as she deemed it “impossible that one person would be capable of advising regularly, or correctly, from seven to 12 politicians simultaneously.”

“People deserve to know on what the … House spends their resources. I think it’s an atrocity that a person registers a corporation … in December [2016] and that in a four-year period, he would obtain more than $1.2 million, and there aren’t any explanations. It can’t be like that,” Torres Reyes said. “This is an extended open invitation that we will keep following to both Carlos ‘Johnny’ Méndez and Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González to explain who this person is, why this person had access to so many contracts and, most of all, where the proof is of his performance and work for the Puerto Rican people.”

Meanwhile, when asked by the Star for her thoughts on a recent bill that Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced submitted to the sixth special session that began yesterday, which proposes tackling contracts awarded for political benefits at the beginning of a new administration or amid an emergency, Torres Reyes said she agreed with the governor’s determination that it is time to stop schemes like the ones both she and her colleagues have called out.

“I believe that contractors should be registered with lead time as Puerto Ricans should know both their capability and expertise [in regard] to serving the country and so that it doesn’t look like this,” she said. “This is cronyism, this is what Puerto Ricans want to stop.”

Out of the $15,850 that Campos Hernández donated to NPP legislators, $5,400 went to Méndez Nuñez. Meanwhile, four consulting services contracts with OC Strategic Advisors that add up to $146,400 remain in force until Dec. 31. According to the island State Department’s Registry of Corporations and Entities, OC Strategic Advisors is located in the municipality of Toa Baja and still remains active as a limited liability company with the objective of offering “strategies, consulting and counseling on public policy topics, in addition to any other allowed legitimate purpose.”

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