The Anaudi Hernandez corruption case and its impact in the PDP, explained

by Sep 14, 2016Courts0 comments

In December 2015, the FBI leveled a 25-count indictment against ten Puerto Rican businessmen, administrators, and special assistants in the government. The indictment includes charges of federal program bribery, money laundering, wire fraud, and obstruction of justice. At the heart of the investigation is Anaudi Hernandez Perez, a businessman and political fundraiser who plead guilty in February to 14 charges related to conspiracy to commit fraud and extortion. If he is convicted, Perez faces a sentence of between 70 and 87 months in prison.

Perez was recently involved with companies like 3 Comm Global Inc., Links Group LLC, EKO Technologies LLC, JM Professional & Training Group Inc. and Waffler Avenue LLC. Some of these companies were formed immediately before or after the gubernatorial election of 2012.  By providing funds and gifts to government personnel, Perez was able to give these companies an unfair advantages over competing businesses These advantages included: priority on government “request for proposals (RFP), special guidance from agency employees on the best ways to get government contracts, and how to structure proposals to circumvent some of the formal bidding processes involved in getting contracts.” Not only were his methods of getting the contracts questionable legally, but so was the way the companies fulfilled those contracts after they acquired them. By hiring subcontractors, doing subpar work, and not fulfilling financial obligations, Perez and the companies he associate with were not operating within the legal parameters of the contracts they had acquired.

The contracts are not the only matter in question. In court testimony on August 29, Perez acknowledged that he was responsible for collecting hundreds of thousands in cash illegally to contribute to various government officials in exchange for favors. When asked by federal prosecutor Timothy Henwood if the cash violated electoral law, Perez said: “Yes. Seventy-five percent was collected in cash and the rest in checks. Yes, it was a violation. This was done first because there were people who contributed and didn’t want to appear in the registry or who had already reached the contribution cap or were from other parties.”

On September 2, a record of Perez’s organized contributions to various officials included luxury handbags, expensive lunch and dinner outings, and to the courtroom’s shock, one instance of a paid prostitute being provided to one individual.

The Popular Democratic Party, the political party for which Perez was a fundraiser, is now experiencing ripple effects from the court case. Mayoral candidate for San Juan Leo Diaz Urbina, of the New Progressive Party (NPP), requested that current mayor of the city Carmen Yulín Cruz, clarify her relationship with Perez. Cruz is a member of the PDP and received funds from Perez. Some Puerto Rican politicians have spoken for political reform of government contract systems in wake of the events. Luis Gallardo, a PDP candidate for the House, has proposed banning contracts for political donors.

Former governor Luis Fortuno, of the NPP, claimed that Perez had “tried countless times, in different ways, to raise money in my 2012 campaign and we did not allow it…we are not equal (to PDP) we are very different.” The former governor’s statement comes on the back of new revelations from Perez’s testimony in court that places now resigned Speaker of the House Jaime Perello at the heart of the case. After details emerged showing that Perello had assisted Perez in promoting appointments that were in Perez’s favor and had frequently stayed overnight in Perez’s home, President of the PDP David Bernier and others internally pressured the speaker to leave his position. Perello said he resigned to ensure the unity of the party in the House.

Perez’s links to the PDP party did not end there. Public affairs secretary Jesús Manuel Ortiz González’s name came up repeatedly in Perez’s testimony, and questions are being asked about his connection to Perez as well. Perez said that the secretary had frequented his residence in Aguadilla for fundraising activities for key PDP members. Current governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla addressed the media on September 3 to downplay Perez’s testimony about his affairs secretary and perhaps more notably, the links to his brother Gerry Garcia Padilla. “Jesús Manuel Ortiz is a witness, Gerry García Padilla is a witness, he is not accused of a crime. Witnesses to prove some facts.”

As the trial continues and more of the defendants come to testify, the PDP party structure all the way up to the governor will have to field further questions from the media and contend with the repercussions of the court case.