PDP pols: González Colón’s campaign is wrapped in money from fiscal board and PREPA lobbyists
By Pedro Correa Henry
Special to The Star
Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Rep. Luis Vega Ramos and at-large candidate for the island House of Representatives Gabriel López Arrieta called out Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón on Tuesday for obtaining a total of $37,720 in donations from lobbyists, advisers and suppliers of the Financial Oversight and Management Board (FOMB) and the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) for her re-election campaign.
During a press conference at the party’s headquarters in Puerta de Tierra, San Juan, Vega Ramos revealed the details of González Colón’s campaign committee income issued by the Federal Election Commission and by the Center for Responsive Politics, a non-profit organization dedicated to overseeing the income and expenses of members of Congress and candidates for president of the United States. Vega Ramos said that “like [New Progressive Party (NPP) gubernatorial candidate] Pedro Pierluisi, González’s loyalties also expire.”
According to official documents, the resident commissioner received $2,700 from the oversight board’s former chairman, José Carrión III, for the 2016 primary elections on Dec. 12, 2015. López Arrieta pointed to Carrión as “Pierluisi’s former brother-in-law, and member of the Latinos for Trump committee, which González Colón co-chairs.”
The at-large House candidate said González Colón also received $1,000 from Proskauer Rose LLP Government Affairs and Bankruptcy Division Director Martin Bienenstock for the 2020 Primary Elections campaign. He said Bienenstock is also a partner in the aforementioned law firm, which represents the oversight board in the island’s and PREPA’s bankruptcy processes.
“So you are seeing clearly when we see the position of the resident commissioner, in favor of the bondholders and not in favor of the Puerto Rican people,” López Arrieta said, adding that Proskauer Rose LLP charged the oversight board $68.4 million for its work. “After four years, they haven’t accomplished anything; but González accomplished something, [she] keeps receiving funds from those who drown the people of Puerto Rico.”
Meanwhile, electoral income reports revealed that González Colón received $2,000 from Guayama-based Applied Energy Services (AES) Puerto Rico and its Corporation Political Action Committee for her recent primary campaign. López Arrieta said that such donations are “behind great interests that intend to privatize PREPA and put at risk more than 6,000 workers and more than 11,000 retiree pensions.”
“This was also a [legal] client of Pierluisi, who does not want to tread on that issue, but it is very clear that he has been a lawyer for the incinerator and [yet] has wanted to deny it completely,” he said.
Meanwhile, Vega Ramos said González Colón received a total of $30,800 from the firm Essential Insurance and its president Marc Tacher, who is “PREPA’s insurance broker and whose million-dollar contracts do not reveal the exact annual amount, since its collection mechanism is through hundreds of policies that it does not disclose.”
Other income reports show that González Colón’s campaign received $14,232 from King & Spalding, PREPA’s legal advisory firm. The at-large Senate candidate said King & Spalding’s main lobbyist Steve Kupka was involved in a conflict of interest scandal since while advising PREPA “he lobbied for a firm seeking a gasification contract for Units 5 and 6 in San Juan for more than $1.5 billion through a contract managed through the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau’s (PREB) parent company, Fortress Investment Group, which was signed by former PREPA Executive Director José Ortiz.”
At the same time, Vega Ramos said González Colón also received “$2,700 from Justin Peterson, the general manager of DCI Group who was appointed to the FOMB, and another $1,000 from the political action committee of DCI, a company that represents general bondholders and those who promote the privatization of PREPA.”
As for Pierluisi, Vega Ramos alleged that he has not published his 2019 income taxes as he fears the people seeing “how much the FOMB paid for his settlement, or his down payment when he ‘liquidated’ his participation in the board’s law firm to become governor.”
Resident commissioner responds to allegations
Later in the day, González Colón responded to the allegations during a press conference where she revealed her public safety and anti-narcotics agenda.
“I have never … played with donations, or committed crimes, or given money as the PDP [resident commissioner] candidate Aníbal Acevedo Vilá has done.”
“The donation that was made by the now appointed FOMB member Justin Peterson was from 2016 and now, I was opposed to his appointment. I believe in transparency,“ she González Colón said. “As you have seen in the polls, I am the resident commissioner that the people of Puerto Rico are supporting; therefore, there are a lot of people who are donating to my campaign, all by the law.”
The Star requested a response from Pierluisi’s spokesperson Lisdián Acevedo via text message, but had not received one as of press time.