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Insufficient pressure from Bernier to make Perelló resign

By on September 21, 2016

SAN JUAN – First he asked him to resign as speaker of the House. Then he asked him not to run on the ballot, a petition that fell on deaf ears. In his latest statement he said he wouldn’t vote for him in the upcoming elections less than two months away.

Popular Democratic Party (PDP) President and gubernatorial candidate David Bernier has pressured Rep. Jaime Perelló to desist from running for re-election. However, all his efforts have fallen short and the party leader has yet to use more powerful tools—such as going to court to have him removed him from his seat.

(CB/ Juan J. Rodríguez)

PDP) President and gubernatorial candidate David Bernier (CB/ Juan J. Rodríguez)

“It’s a dangerous path, but what the president [Bernier] is doing is forcing that Perelló stays as alone as possible, forcing his resignation or making his point,” said political analyst Luis Pabón Roca, an attorney who identifies himself with the PPD.

The attorney believes Bernier’s strategy is “to consolidate his position regarding the morality he wants to establish within a new PDP to distinguish it from the old PDP and the opposition party. It remains to be seen how this is reflected in the Puerto Rican electorate.”

Perelló’s presence on the ballot is not sitting well with others. Representatives such as Luis Raúl Torres, Manuel Natal and Ángel Matos have publicly stated that having Perelló on the ballot affects them. And the PPD president took a stance never seen before. He said he won’t vote for Perelló—a candidate on the party’s ballot—which shows he is willing to “give up a seat in the Legislature” to make his point, Pabón Roca said.

“Bernier says [Perelló] shouldn’t appear on the ballot, he won’t vote for him, but doesn’t make way to go to court to disqualify him,” said political analyst Ramón Rosario, an attorney who identifies with the New Progressive party (NPP).

According to Rosario, “the Electoral Law, in Article 8.020, allows the president to go to court and disqualify a candidate. When he was president, [Pedro] Pierluisi did it twice: with Armando Santos and with Raúl Caraballo [during the recent primary].”

But the legal route represents a “long” and even costly process some 50 days before the election, Pabón Roca said.

Idle House

Interim House Speaker Roberto Rivera Ruiz de Porras said he wouldn’t ask the House Ethics Committee to launch an investigation against Perelló, like Senate President Eduardo Bhatia did in the case of Mari Tere González. He believes it is enough to refer audits showing irregularities in the awarding of a House contract with 3Comm Global to the Justice Department and the Comptroller’s Office.

Former House Speaker Jaime Perelló. (File)

Rep. Jaime Perelló (File)

“The Ethics Commission, at its own initiative, should have acknowledged it received the audit report that all of us representatives have and begin a process of evaluating everything that has to do with the contract,” Matos told Caribbean Business, adding that he believes Perelló’s “good work” has been “overshadowed” by all the controversy surrounding him.

But the Ethics Committee doesn’t have the power to convene itself and initiate an investigation, its president, César Hernández, said.

An ethics complaint against Perelló, which was filed Friday, was dismissed because it didn’t meet some of the basic requirements for a thorough investigation of the complaint, Hernández said. Investigations that aren’t requested by the House speaker must be requested by a person with personal knowledge of the case.

However, NPP Rep. Carlos “Johnny” Méndez, announced Wednesday that a second ethics complaint against Perelló would be presented.

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