Following the uncovering of the illegal lobbying scheme by the Government of Puerto Rico as uncovered in soyPATRIA, the New Progressive Party President and Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi has announced the party will sue to stop the practice, following the confirmation of the practice by the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration.
Pierluisi, while present in the 2013 Convention of the NPP Youth in Cidra, Puerto Rico, stated that he had directed the party lawyers to draft a law suit to be filed in trial court. “Today we have learned that the person that directs the office of Puerto Rico in Washington, Juan Eugenio Hernandez Mayoral, admitted publicly that public funds are being utilized to go against the will of our people, and to visit members of the federal Senate to tell them among other things that statehood did not win in the past plebiscite and to defend the current status, to go against what the people already decided. Who gets the most amount of votes in a plebiscite or electoral process if who wins, and the people of Puerto Rico spoke clearly in the plebiscite. Statehood won” indicated Pierluisi.
The NPP president had in fact warned since the beginning of the term that he would follow this course of action should the current territorial administration use lobbyists for the purpose of lobbying against the plebiscite results. Such a course of action was effectively confirmed by Hernandez Mayoral, and had been publicly seen when soyPATRIA received the letter being sent to congressional offices in the country.
The lawsuit will be requested along with an injunction that prohibits the use of public funds to lobby against the will of the people in terms of their rejection of the current status, and their support of statehood. The party will also seek a declaratory sentence that establishes that statehood won the plebiscite legally. In the plebiscite, 54% of voters rejected the current status in the first questions, and 61% of those who voted chose statehood versus 25% for free association and 5% for independence.
The revelations on Saturday also prompted former Puerto Rico House Speaker and current Representative Jose Aponte to announce he would be writing to the United States Attorney General Eric Holder to request an investigation on the actions of PRFAA. Aponte said that “the lack of respect towards the people of this government goes to the extreme of the acceptance that the PRFAA director did today that the last two contracts he signed are for the lobbying of the governor and his subjugates against the decision express last november by the mayority that does not wish to remain a territory. The people spoke and there is no going back. Puerto Rico will be state number 51.”
Pasquines conducted an investigation of the lobbying reports for 2013 using the database from the Center for Responsive Politics. As of this date only the first quarter reports are available, but they do show three reports for three different firms, two for $30,000 each, in contract with the PRFAA. At least in the first quarter, there was no activity involving HR 2000, the Puerto Rico Status Resolution Act introduced by Pierluisi in the house. Likewise, the Senate shows no activity involving the specific issue of Puerto Rico’s status. The expressions by Hernandez Mayoral were then likely due to the fact that both houses of Congress are due to publish their second quarter lobbying reports, which would reveal that Prime Policy group, the firm headed by notorious Republican lobbyist Charlie Black has another contract to lobby for the position of the Governor of Puerto Rico Alejandro Garcia Padilla, against the results of the plebiscite. The hiring of Black remains an oddity in American politics, since most members of the Popular Democratic Party are aligned with the Democratic Party nationally, yet hire have no qualms in hiring staunchly Republican lobbyists, a fact that has seen them garner criticism on several occasions.
As we have previously reported, AGP and his party question the legitimacy of the results of the plebiscite due to 500,000 voters who chose not to vote in the second question, despite the fact that courts in Puerto Rico have clearly established that blank ballots cannot be used to determine the result of an election or other electoral process.