Battle brews over Palacios at Customs - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Battle brews over Palacios at Customs

Posted: Aug 06, 2018 5:13 PM Updated:

Already at odds over the budget, now Adelup and the Legislature are butting heads over the expired appointment of controversial Customs and Quarantine Director Eric Palacios.

Last week public safety oversight chair Senator Telena Nelson wrote a letter asking the administration to nominate someone else to lead Customs.

Palacios' appointment expired on July 29. Senator Nelson did not report Palacios' nomination out of committee - with Adelup saying the senator failed to do her job - but Nelson says she's doing the job she was elected to do.

"In this instance, the appointee lacked experience in the Customs and Quarantine agency, there were a lot of allegations surrounding him and there was a lot of public concern about his appointment," Nelson said.

Governor Eddie Calvo today addressing concerns about Palacios, which include accusations of sexual harassment and allegations he attempted to get back confiscated butterfly knives from Customs.

"Rumors, everything is rumor mongering around here. These guys don't have the guts to vote him up or down," Calvo said.

Nelson couldn't say if a vote on Palacios would've passed or failed, but she did say her committee had her back.

"I don't know if it would have passed, but I know that I do have my colleagues - several of my colleagues in my committee's support to not report him out," Nelson said.

While Nelson is saying Palacios should hit the road jack - this morning Lt. Governor Ray Tenorio reaffirmed Palacios is still the head honcho at Customs.

"Eric Palacios is my director of Customs," Tenorio said.

We stopped by Customs this afternoon, and the Director was out to lunch, Customs staff confirming Palacios is still their boss. Palacios has been around the block in the Calvo/Tenorio administration, serving at one time as head of the Guam State Clearinghouse, administrator of Guam EPA and most recently as a special assistant to the Governor.

Guam law states no one can serve in an acting capacity for more than 90 days without being confirmed by senators - the law even saying once an appointment is expired, funds from that agency can't be used to pay the salary or benefits of an expired appointment.

The Governor saying the Legislature is creating chaos at Customs - and he'll do whatever it takes to stand by his man.

"I intend to keep Eric there - he's doing a great job - if I have to delegate him there as a special assistant, I'll do it," Calvo said.

Nelson tells KUAM News she has reached out to Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett Anderson for an opinion on the matter.

Meanwhile, Legislative Rules committee chair Senator Regine Biscoe Lee says the administration has 20 pending nominations sitting with senators - 9 of which have been reported out for August session. Of the 140 nominations sent to the body by Adelup, 101 have been confirmed by senators.

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