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Transition fund unpoliced

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The Leon Guerrero-Tenorio administration raised and spent $666,000 in "transition and inaugural funds," but it appears there's no one to hold them accountable for how they spent the money or what they spent it on.

The Lou and Josh team raised $1.6 million during the election, and they didn't stop there. Even after they won Decision 2018, the team continued raising money for what they call "transition and inauguration funds."

Documents obtained by way of Freedom of Information Act show they raised nearly $700,000 in donations from businesses for the inauguration and transition.

According to transition team documents, by the time Leon Guerrero-Tenorio admin was sworn in on Jan. 7, the transition team already raised over a half a million dollars or $512,987.

And while transition team officials had said the inauguration would cost $250,000, a review of these documents show the inauguration's real price tag was $417,436.

After the swearing in, the fund's balance was $96,000. Guam law says "donations in excess of the amount needed to pay expenses of the (transition) Committee SHALL be the property of the Government of Guam and SHALL be deposited with the Treasury of Guam no later than 30 days after" the swearing in of the new administration.

But that's not what happened with the fund's balance. Instead, after the inauguration, the administration kept taking donations. Documents show after the inauguration, the Transition Committee accepted another $152,930 bringing the fund's balance – after paying inauguration costs – to nearly $250,000.

The month Lou and Josh took office starting on Jan. 15, the transition fund began spending money on what it labeled as "executive office expenses." The committee spent $40,000 on furniture, $30,000 on carpets and $35,000 on a contractor, $9,000 paid to Guam AutoSpot, $20,000 paid to Bank of Guam – these expenditures a far cry from what the last administration did with leftover inaugural-transition funds.

Former Gov. Eddie Calvo tells KUAM News when he won the election in 2010 the $90,000 he had left after paying inaugural costs went to a good cause.

"It was decided that we would donate whatever the balance was to Kamalin Karidat so it wasn't the complication of having to do anything when you're sending money over to the government," he said. "That's where's a little bit of difference – we didn't donate to the government."

While Guam law says the governor can accept donations, these donations were made to the Transition committee, which is bound by laws governing how long these funds can be used and what must be done with the fund's balance.

But who holds the use of this fund accountable? Not I, said the Guam Election Commission.


"Any money raised for noncampaign purposes would be outside of the GEC's jurisdiction," GEC Acting Director Tom San Agustin said.

And how willing would a democrat Public auditor be to look into a democrat administration's use of transition funds? Public Auditor BJ Cruz declined an on-camera interview, but in a statement said, "the OPA has not been requested to conduct an audit nor has the OPA ever conducted an audit of any prior transition."

The law dealing with gubernatorial transitions says a report of donations received and funds spent shall be included in the transition report the committee presents to the Legislature. The committee did present trans team findings and recommendations to the legislature during a hearing on Feb. 21, but no transition fundraising and spending reports were submitted.

We asked the Leon Guerrero-Tenorio administration several questions about this fund over a month ago – and now over a month later, we're still waiting for answers. One of the questions we asked – does the administration still have to follow procurement laws if it is using transitions funds on government projects?

In reviewing the expenses, we found prominent Lou and Josh supporters were cut checks from the fund. Johnny "Cool" Torres was paid $47,217 from the fund. Even Maga’haga Leon Guerrero was cut a check for almost $4,000 on Dec. 14.

Another question - if transition funds were used to pay for furniture, carpets, and renovations for Government House and Adelup, does that mean this administration can take the items bought with the fund when they leave office?

“So that's something maybe either the procurement officers of the administration or the attorney general or the public auditor should look at,” former Gov. Calvo said.

Lou and Josh Transition Top Donors

Bank of Guam $25,000
Coretech $25,000
Guam Music $25,000
Lotte Duty-Free $25,000

Notable Expenditures
Dusit Thani $69,680
Bank of Guam $20,807
Michael Marriott $39,990
Arkana Pacific Contractors $34,250
The Carpet Store $29,651
Furniture Kathy Style $32,747

 

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