FINANCIAL Companies Director Bernadita Palacios of the Division of Finance on Friday appeared earlier than the Home Committee on Judiciary and Governmental Operations whose members requested her about Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’ journey paperwork.
Palacios appeared earlier than the committee along with her counsel, former Lawyer Normal Matt Gregory.
Presiding over the listening to was the committee chair, Rep. Celina Babauta. Additionally current had been the opposite committee members: Reps. Tina Sablan, Edwin Propst, Donald Manglona, Vicente Camacho, Richard Lizama and Vice Speaker Blas Jonathan Attao, the lone Republican on the panel.
Palacios has been with the Division of Finance for 30 years and the director of her division since 2012.
As director, she certifies the provision of funds for government-funded travels requested by public officers together with Gov. Torres.
She instructed the committee that she indicators a journey authorization for approval provided that there can be found funds.
However she stated there have been journey requests that by no means reached her desk and had been permitted by earlier Finance secretaries and the present one.
Palacios stated authorities staff or officers need to submit a visit report in 30 days, and failure to take action means computerized deduction from the person’s paycheck. She stated there isn’t any exception to the rule, not even the governor.
She additionally stated that it was not solely the governor however there have been different authorities officers who had additionally didn’t submit their journey reviews.
Enterprise/top quality journey
Palacios was proven a replica of the regulation, 1 CMC Part 7407, which prohibits enterprise or top quality travels by public officers.
She instructed the committee: “I would not log off journey requests for enterprise or top quality.”
Palacios was proven a boarding move and different paperwork indicating that the governor, together with first girl Diann T. Torres, traveled top quality and enterprise class.
The committee stated that from January 2015 to July 2020, the governor revamped 100 off-island journeys that price the CNMI authorities no less than $490,000.
Wanting on the copies of the boarding move and different journey data, Palacios answered “sure” when requested by Rep. Tina Sablan if she, Palacios, primarily based on the paperwork, would agree that the governor traveled top quality or enterprise class.
Palacios was additionally proven paperwork pertaining to the governor’s journey to satisfy Workplace of Financial Adjustment Western Regional Director Gary Kuwabara and Alaska Aerospace’s Craig Campbell in Oregon and Alaska on June 16 to 24, 2018 respectively.
Palacios confirmed the authenticity of the journey voucher that indicated $16,250 in first-class airfare, as effectively $200 per diem and $288.97 for lodgings. For this journey, the governor was accompanied by the primary girl, the committee stated.
The committee additionally offered journey paperwork indicating that the governor was offered by a federal company greater than $4,000 for economic system class air fare. However an amended journey authorization signed by the governor modified the air fare class to top quality for which he acquired an extra $12,000, the committee stated.
Palacios was additionally proven paperwork pertaining to the governor’s journey from Oregon to Boise, Idaho after which to Guam in the course of the June 16-24, 2018 interval.
The committee stated the governor held a marketing campaign rally in Boise whereas he was there.
Palacios confirmed that the signature on the journey authorization or TA was the governor’s. The TA said that the journey was “in one of the best curiosity of the CNMI authorities.” In line with the TA, the governor stated he was to satisfy with then-Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo concerning “airways points.”
The governor’s stipend for this journey was $500, and he additionally acquired $599 for lodgings, the committee stated.
Palacios stated no journey report was submitted to her concerning the June 16-24, 2018 journey.
Palacios was additionally proven paperwork indicating that the governor spent two days on the Pacific Star Lodge on Guam from June 22 to 24, 2018.
Requested if the governor was compensated for his lodging bills on Guam on the day of the Torres marketing campaign rally there, Palacios stated, “Sure, he was compensated.”
Requested if she was conscious that the governor was planning to make a political marketing campaign cease on Guam, Palacios stated, “No.”
Requested if Finance coverage permits government-funded journeys to be prolonged to private or political functions, Palacios stated, “No, it have to be for public function.”