Thursday, September 15, 2011

Adelup officials violate Mini-Hatch Act


AN EMAIL sent by Governor Eddie Baza Calvo’s Chief of Staff Franklin Arriola and Special Assistant Jadeen Tuncap on Sept. 14 urging political appointees of the governor and Cabinet members to attend Republican Senator Chris Duenas’ lunch fundraiser and a Guam War Survivors Memorial Foundation fundraiser sponsored by Senator Frank Blas Jr., yesterday, is in violation of the Mini-Hatch Act.

The message was sent by Arriola and Tuncap using their government of Guam email account, and was sent to GovGuam email accounts of Cabinet members and Executive appointees.

The email message read: “Cabinet Members and Senior Staff: Senator (Frank) Blas and Senator (Chris) Duenas were staunch supporters of Governor Calvo’s budget and bond proposals. They were intimately involved and engaged with Governor Calvo throughout this difficult, but hugely successful, endeavor. It is imperative that all of us reciprocate the support, Governor Calvo, Lt. Governor Tenorio and I look forward to seeing all of you at these two fine events. Frank.”
Arriola spoke to Variety and said he was very apologetic and it was a mistake.

“As far as the issue at hand, I wanted to make a comment on that. I’m a good guy. When I did this, it did not dawn on me at all. As I looked and I thought about it, I made a mistake, no question about it. For the public, I apologize. I’m sorry. The people of Guam deserve the truth. I made a mistake and if I offended anyone, I’m sorry.”

Troy Torres, the governor’s director of communications, said: “After looking at the law, it appears this is a Mini-Hatch violation and it’s something that was an honest mistake Frank made. Frank thought that because he was sending this only to political appointees and Cabinet members, that he was following the Mini-Hatch Act.”

Torres added: “He used his personal computer to send this out, he didn’t realize that sending it from his email account that he used was in violation of the Mini-Hatch Act. He is very apologetic for that.”

The law

Under 4 Guam Code Annotated, Chapter 5, prohibited activity, specific activity in which employees are prohibited from participating include, but are not limited to: organizing, selling tickets to, seeking support for or actively participating in a fund-raising activity of a political party, partisan political organization or candidate.

Another section of the law states it is illegal for employees to use government supplies or government facilities for the benefit of any political party, partisan political organization or candidate, and this includes the government of Guam’s email system.

The law further reads that whether a GovGuam employee or not, no person can solicit or receive a contribution or distribute literature for any political purpose in any room or building occupied in the discharge of official duties by any person employed by the Executive, Legislative or Judicial Branches of the government. Soliciting a contribution includes solicitation by letter or circular address to and delivered to an employee in said room or building. Any person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor.

Anyone who believes an employee has violated the Mini-Hatch Act should report the matter to the Civil Service Commission, who will decide whether the alleged violation warrants an investigation.

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