Speaker Perelló: I’m resigning to protect fellow lawmakers
The ongoing federal corruption case against Popular Democratic Party fundraiser Anadi Hernandez caused the resignation of the highest government official to date, when Puerto Rico House of Representatives Speaker Jaime Perelló resigned to that office today.
Speaking to a huge crowd of Capitol employees and fellow lawmakers gathered at the Capitol rotunda, at the start of the news conference, Perelló appeared at times as if he would start crying but would immediately be comforted by fellow lawmakers next to him.
Perelló left his position after meeting with 16 lawmakers at the Capitol to discuss a trial underway in federal court of three former House employees under his direct supervision who were charged in a pay-for-play scheme to benefit the former speaker’s fundraiser, Anaudi Hernández. During the trial Monday, Hernández said he raised more than $60,000 in cash for Perelló as part of a pyramid scheme organized by attorney Irvin Faccio in which he was required to raise $75,000 for the House leader.
Before announcing his resignation, Perelló spoke about his achievements at the helm of the House, which included making it the “People’s House,” allowing citizens to file bills, passing incentives for small and midsize businesses and making proceedings more transparent by airing them online.
Perelló added he was resigning from his position to ensure the unity of the party’s delegation in the House and avoid being “an excuse” in the party’s future.
Perelló’s resignation halts a potential crisis in the PDP: the party’s gubernatorial candidate, David Bernie, had threatened to withdraw his candidacy if Perelló refused to resign. That said, this is likely not going to be the last we hear from this case. In today’s testimony, Hernandez explained in detail how an illegal fundraising scheme operated, in benefit of both Perelló, and current governor Alejandro García Padilla.