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Guam ethics committee hearing on Sen. Espaldon begins, in secret

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — Without public notice and behind closed doors, the legislative ethics committee investigating an ethics complaint against Sen. James Espaldon started its hearing Monday morning.

The committee has previously confirmed it will keep its inquiry into Espaldon confidential, which is a departure from the public hearing on the complaint against then-Sen. Matt Rector. Rector resigned at the end of his ethics hearing.

The Guam Daily Post was barred from the hearing.

James Espaldon

Despite an initial indication from committee chairman and Sen. Fernando Esteves that the Post may be able to address the committee, the committee as a whole later decided that it would not allow the Post to enter the hearing. Post staff was told the committee would only entertain a written letter of protest to the Legislature.

Besides the committee members who went into the closed-door hearing with Espaldon, his staffer Phil Roberto was also seen entering the hearing room.

Roberto is a central figure in the ethics complaint concerning Espaldon.

The ethics complaint accuses Espaldon of using his position as a Guam senator to negotiate for a company that tried to sell a nearly $11 million power-plant system to the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. on Saipan.

Saipan Rep. Ed Propst filed the ethics complaint and questioned Espaldon’s role as representative of the company called General Pacific Services Marianas Inc., while at the same time serving as an elected official.

Espaldon previously told the Guam Daily Post he didn’t know his legislative staffer, Roberto, was GPSM’s vice president. Roberto’s stepmother Adeline Roberto was then-board chairwoman of the Commonwealth Utilities Corp., when it decided to buy the generator from GPSM. Another then-CUC board member Albert Taitano, faces questions for his involvement in the company.

CUC received almost $500,000 in federal funds to study its power-generation future before deciding to buy a generator from GPSM, according to the recording of a recent legislative hearing in the Northern Marianas.

In light of Propst’s disclosures of the relationships between the seller’s representatives and some of the utilities agency’s officials, the purchase was canceled. Propst has talked to the FBI and given documents to federal authorities.

Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/97344-guam-ethics-committee-hearing-on-sen-espaldon-begins-in-secret

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