UPR presidential candidate welcomes Justice Dept. probe, questions its timing
By The Star Staff
Although the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) twice dismissed complaints to the effect that he used his official government vehicle outside working hours, UPR Arecibo Campus Chancellor Carlos Andújar Rojas welcomed a Justice Department probe on the subject but questioned its timing.
Andújar, who is one of several candidates running for UPR president, and is allegedly the preferred candidate, also questioned the reasons why UPR Interim President Mayra Olavarría Cruz this week sought a legal opinion on the subject even though she had agreed with the conclusions of two UPR investigations on the matter that dismissed the complaints. Olavarría presumably asked Lourdes Rodriguez, a lawyer who was appointed legal director at the UPR Río Piedras Campus by another UPR presidential candidate, Luis Ferrao Delgado. UPR Communications Office Director Daniel Rodríguez said the administration would not comment.
“I hope this complaint is handled promptly,” Andújar said. “There are two reports from two investigators from two different presidencies. What else is there when I have been exonerated?”
Justice Department spokeswoman Joan Hernández reportedly confirmed that Justice had asked for copies of the investigators’ reports. The UPR governing board is slated to choose a president next week.
The complaints were filed by UPR professor José Alberty Monroig in May 2021. Previously, UPR had dismissed an identical complaint on the same fact filed by a group of students. However, a committee from the governing board in a divided vote decided to conduct a second investigation, which also led to the complaint being dismissed.
Monroig said that in October 2021, Olavarría had informed him in writing that she was not going to investigate the matter again because it was the same as the one filed by the students. However, after the committee’s vote, Monroig was summoned in April 2022 for the second probe, which was carried out by attorney Allan Charlotten-Rivera.
Monroig said the Justice Department had begun an investigation last year as they sought information from UPR Arecibo, but that it appeared to have been paralyzed until now.
The allegations are that Andújar used his official vehicle outside working hours for personal errands. The vehicle was also at his house.
Andújar said the complaint is a “frivolous one.”
The university assigns personal vehicles to chancellors, whose homes are considered part of their offices because they are 24/7 officials. Andújar’s position requires him to be available all the time in order to attend to any situation in the institution.
“Almost always our schedules fluctuate constantly and we have to be available on weekends,” he said. “I am not a public official who has a set schedule.”
The chancellor is also allowed to make stops in transit to his house or in transit to work to purchase food.