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Governor Loses Top Aide, Others in Scandal

Governor Ricardo Rossello Nevares last evening lost the services of his chief aide and deputy chief aide as well as three other senior officials of his administration because of a campaign scandal, an alleged cover-up attempt, and related ethical questions.

The actions were taken after Justice Secretary Wanda Vazquez Garced reported the findings of an investigation of the campaign improprieties and her referrals of individuals to other authorities.

Secretary of the Governorship William Villafane Ramos resigned and the Governor asked for the resignation of the others.

Villafane has been replaced on an interim basis by Secretary of State Luis Rivera Marin, who will continue to head the State Department. Other replacements have not been named.

The campaign scandal concerned the involvement of a judge from Mayaquez, Rafael Ramos Saenz, in Rossello’s gubernatorial campaign. It came to light after questions were raised about actions by Ramos after being named President of the Elections Commission by Rossello after an initial promotion by the Governor to the Superior Court.

Initial inquires found Ramos’ participation in WhatsApp communications with dozens of others in the Rossello campaign.

Vazquez referred Villafane, Ramos, Associate Secretary of the Governorship Itza Garcia Rodriquez, Governor’s Office Director of Transformation and Efficiency Yesenia Diaz Roman, Care of Minors Administrator Waleska Maldonado Claudio, and Aqueduct and Sewer Authority Deputy Administrator Yoniel Arroyo Muniz to the Independent Special Prosecutors Panel.

Garcia was also referred to the U.S. Attorney for attempting to intimidate Vazquez regarding the investigation. The intimidation concerned a Vazquez family member.

Other complaints about Garcia included improper influence and perjury. Criminal complaints regarding Ramos concerned improper use of government assets.

Vazquez additionally referred 15 attorneys to the Supreme Court for possible ethics violations in political communications with a judge. Included were Attorney General Luis Roman-Negron, although Vazquez said he had “almost no participation” in the communications.

Two others reportedly among the dozen attorneys are the Governor’s representative to the PROMESA Board and chief economic aide, Christian Sobrino, and his infrastructure advisor, Maria Palou.

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