They ask for destitution governor PR after scandal of corruption
WASHINGTON — The FBI on Wednesday arrested two former senior officials who served in administration of Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, leading the chair of the House committee that oversees Puerto Rico to call for the governor to step down.
The arrests also spurred concerns on Capitol Hill about the billions of dollars in aid that Congress has approved for the island.
The federal indictment says the former officials illegally directed federal funding to politically connected contractors. The arrests come about a month after Congress approved a controversial disaster aid bill that earmarked additional funding for Puerto Rico’s recovery from Hurricane Maria in 2017, which were tied up in part because President Donald Trump called island officials “incompetent or corrupt.”
Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., chair of the Natural Resource Committee that oversees Puerto Rico, called on Rosselló to resign amid the ongoing federal investigation.
“We’ve crossed that crucible now,” said Grijalva, who later reiterated on Twitter that he supports Rosselló’s resignation. “The restoration of accountability is so key going forward.”
Six people were charged in the 32-count indictment. They include Julia Keleher, who served as Puerto Rico’s education secretary until April; and Ángela Ávila-Marrero, who was the executive director of the Puerto Rico Health Insurance Administration until late June.
“Keleher and Avila-Marrero exploited their government positions and fraudulently awarded contracts funded with federal moneys,” U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodriguez-Vélez said in a statement. “The charged offenses are reprehensible, more so in light of Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis.”
Prosecutors said Rosselló was not involved in the investigation, according to the Associated Press. The governor said on Twitter he had cut short a vacation to return to the island.
A spokesman for Rosselló did not return requests for comment.
The U.S. Attorney in Puerto Rico also told CBS News that Rossello is not being investigated in relation to Wednesday’s arrest. On twitter, the governor said his administration would fight corruption in all its forms and that nobody is above the law.
The island’s allies fear the arrests will give Trump greater justification for curtailing badly needed aid to the island. San Juan Mayor Cameron Yulin Cruz, a political opponent of the governor, said that poor people on the island who still need federal aid will be the victims of the corruption charges if they lead to reductions in federal spending, but that the allegations “do not represent what the people of Puerto Rico are about.”
“The governor of Puerto Rico and his administration have now given President Trump the ammunition he needed,” Cruz said.