Bordallo knew war claims needed fix since last July - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Bordallo's office knew war claims needed fix since last July

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Former Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo is bearing the brunt of the blame for another delay in payment of war claims, but she defers to her former chief of staff for questions about what really went down.

It could be over a year before checks are issued if no administrative solution is
reached. But the biggest question is - why didn't Bordallo or her staffers tell anyone that there was a major problem with war claims?

The former congresswoman is now asking war claims applicants who have been waiting decades for a little more time.

"Please be patient," she said. "I want to point out too that anybody who dies after they got their request in is still eligible."

When pressed for answers about the 2018 timeline and when her office knew war claims had hit another roadblock, Bordallo referred us to her former Chief of Staff Adam Carbullido.

"Adam would give you more of the information because he totally in charge of moving the war claims and he was my chief of staff at the time," Bordallo said.

So we got a hold of Carbullido and asked him when Bordallo's office knew the war claims process was going to reach a standstill.

"That was July of last year," Carbullido said. "That's when Treasury flagged for us that there was additional legislation needed."

War claims was crafted under the Obama administration. Carbullido said the law's language - which uses the permanent appropriation of Section 30 funds - was fine under Obama, but the Trump administration
pulled a 180, requiring an accompanying appropriations measure for the war claims law.

"Treasury's very narrow interpretation of the law is that it requires an additional appropriation and so we got technical assistance from Treasury. They actually provided us with the language necessary and we
tried to provide a legislative fix through appropriations process towards the end of the fiscal year," Carbullido said.

The fix was in August - the thick of campaign season for Bordallo as she squared off against San Nicolas in the Democratic primary. A lot of issues came up during that campaign, but nothing about the problems Bordallo was having with war claims. We asked Carbullido why.

"I was very focused on having my discussions with Treasury and the committee that has jurisdiction to try and find a legislative fix," Carbullido said.

We asked him if after Bordallo lost her long-held seat in the Primary Election whether the legislative fix was dead in the water.

"I met with Congressman San Nicolas and some of his staff members, we went through some of the priorities that he wanted us to lay out," Carbullido explained. "I honestly can't speak to any malicious
intent."

As one of the biggest Congressional issues for Guam, you would think Carbullido would have addressed the problem with the new congressman.

"Looking back that is something that I would have done," Carbullido said.

KUAM reached out to other Bordallo staffers about why the problems with war claims were not made public. We spoke with Jon Calvo, who is now the deputy chief of staff for the Leon Guerrero Tenorio Administration—he referred us back to Bordallo.

KUAM also reached out to former staffer Amanda Shelton who is now a senator in the 35th Guam Legislature. In a statement to KUAM, she said that while employed at the district office, her efforts were to assist survivors in the war claims application process. She was not directly involved in discussions regarding the legislation or policy that may have occurred. She added that she is committed to work with the administration and Congressman San Nicolas to resolve the issue. Her statement was not clear as to whether she knew about the problem prior to last year’s primary election.

Looking forward now, John Witt, a former staffer for both Bordallo and former Congressman Robert Underwood said this issue could be as simple as the Trump administration disagreeing with what the Obama administration said, making an administrative fix difficult.

"They're going to dig in their heels, and they're just going to stand their ground," Witt said.

Witt urges San Nicolas to open a dialogue with Treasury - something the Congressman has reportedly already done. The conditions are favorable for another crack at a legislative fix, he said, and San Nicolas may have an easier time than Bordallo and Carbullido did.

"This could be Congressman San Nicolas' first big win," Witt said.

That remains to be seen, but what is true right now is World War II survivors have taken yet another loss the battle for war reparations.

Meanwhile, the Leon Guerrero administration is also working on a way to make the war claims payouts.Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said her office has already begun reaching out to the feds.

"Whether it's Congress or the White House, administrative wise we will be talking to people where maybe we can just resolve it administratively," she said. "That would be the easiest route to do it, and if I can do it I will certainly do that."

The governor leaves for Washington later this month.

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