[This is a letter I just sent to the Variety and other media on the Open Government Act issue. I hope to put this matter to rest once and for all.]
Setting The Record Straight on HB 15-269
Enough is enough! I wish to correct a grievous error continuously made by Marianas Variety reporter Gemma Casas concerning HB 15-269. In this latest erroneous reporting, she writes the following in the July 25, 2007, edition of the Variety article titled "Ogo, Mendiola say no to Open Government Act pledge" -- 'Kaipat's bill includes a provision giving each lawmaker the discretion of disclosing or releasing information [on] how they spend their public funds.' " This is simply wrong. If passed, HB 15-269 would give no such discretion to the lawmakers, but would actually MANDATE disclosure of their financial records.
Ms. Casas continues: "In [Mr. Eugenio Sablan's] opinion, the last sentence of this proposed change, when it became part of this bill, just eroded its integrity." Most people probably already know this, but once a bill is entertained on the floor, each lawmaker has the prerogative to amend such a bill whether the original bill author likes it or not. The amendment to HB 15-269, which was to mandate that each individual lawmaker disclose his or her respective office's financial records -- rather than the Speaker of the House or the Senate President -- was an amendment made by Representative Ray Yumul. This was never a part of my original bill. Moreover, Mr. Eugenio Sablan and I met and discussed this issue and he informed me that he is now fully aware of the truth behind the amendment to HB 15-269. Hence, to continue to report this story as if there's an ongoing controversy between us is misleading and is a disservice to the public.
As I've shared with Mr. Sablan, the Senate's introduction of a version of the Open Government Act bill that meets with his Group's approval makes any continuous fret over HB 15-269 pointless as this bill will most likely go the same route as every other bill I've authored that has passed the House and languished in the Senate for well over a year -- nowhere!
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Click here for the Marianas Variety article.