Following the allegations from his former top aide that Del. Michael San Nicolas allegedly carried out an affair with a woman whom he hired as a key member of his congressional staff, our community is divided over whether this is a public issue or a personal one for the congressman and his family.
And certain members of our community have given the congressman unconditional support – via numerous posts on San Nicolas’ Facebook page – saying that they back the congressman, regardless of what he may or may not have done behind closed doors.
His accuser has also alleged campaign funds were used to reimburse San Nicolas for alleged resort expenses related to the affair.
Let’s separate the affair issue from the campaign funds issue for a moment.
Because, from a public accountability standpoint, the money issue needs to be verified by the Guam Election Commission and the Federal Election Commission.
John Paul Manuel – the delegate’s former chief of staff and former chief campaigner – has said:
1) that San Nicolas wrote campaign committee checks to himself; and
2) that the congressman isn’t a signatory to the account, but his father, as a campaign official, is.
The GEC and the FEC have the resources to ask for the electronic copies of those checks. That one action alone by either the local or federal election commission should help the public gain a better understanding as to whether campaign funds were spent responsibly by the former Guam senator and freshman member of Congress who brands his office as “Responsible Guam.”
It is on record, from San Nicolas’ filings with the Federal Election Commission, that, on different dates, his campaign reimbursed him for campaign expenses of a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. It’s also on record that certain payments to him from his campaign were not itemized. His campaign also paid San Nicolas for what he said were loans he made to the campaign, the FEC records show.
If GEC and the FEC can quickly check whether 1) the disbursements to San Nicolas were justified; and 2) that the checks were properly signed by the signatories to the campaign bank account, this, independently of the alleged affair, will help the public decide whether to support San Nicolas.
On the affair issue, he would have to answer that allegation before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Ethics Committee, since Congress’ revised ethics rules explicitly bar lawmakers from having sexual affairs with congressional staffers under their authority – mimicking the military’s no-fraternization rule.
And since the congressman has also brought up the same issue of affair allegations before the FBI as part of an alleged “dirty” smear campaign against him, there will be enough authorities to look into the matter.
What the Guam voting public is owed, at the very minimum, is an explanation of whether campaign funds were handled properly.
We need to know if San Nicolas is indeed Mr. Responsible Guam. Both election commissions owe that clarity to the public and to San Nicolas.