SAIPAN — The House Committee on Judiciary and Governmental Operations on Friday reopened the investigation into Gov. Ralph Torres' public expenditures.
The "impetus" of the investigation, according to the committee chairwoman, Rep. Celina Babauta, is the decision of Speaker Edmund Villagomez to refer to her committee the 21st House minority report on the governor's public expenditure, which Rep. Tina Sablan submitted on May 28.
The report was "a result of several months of scrutiny of documents and records pertaining to the governor's expenses and reimbursements, looking into possible violations of law and areas of abuse possibly committed by the governor."
In his memorandum dated June 3, Villagomez stated, "I hereby refer the House Communication submitted by Rep. Christina E. Sablan (on) the 1st Day (of the) Second Special Session (28 May 2021) to the House Standing Committee on Judiciary and Governmental Operations to review and conduct any and all investigation relating to the report on the public expenditures of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres: violations of law, areas of abuse and recommendation for oversight and reform."
Present during the committee meeting Friday were Babauta, Sablan, Villagomez, Vice Speaker Blas Jonathan Attao, Reps. Ralph Yumul, Donald Manglona, Vicente Camacho, Denita Yangetmai, Richard Lizama, Vicente Camacho and Leila Staffler.
Manglona made the motion to reopen the investigation, Sablan seconded and the motion was unanimously adopted.
Sablan then made a motion to authorize the committee chair to issue letters pertaining to the legislative investigation. If the recipients of letters fail to comply in five days, the committee chair is authorized to issue subpoenas, Sablan said.
Her motion was also carried.
Babauta said witnesses who are subpoenaed will be given seven days to appear to the committee hearings.
According to the law, "A person shall be in contempt if the person ... fails or refuses to appear" in compliance with a subpoena.