Delegate calls for public auditor's resignation; Cruz undecided on run for Congress

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CRUZ: Public Auditor Benjamin Cruz sits down with The Guam Daily Post in Hagåtña on Sept. 17, 2018. Post file photo

Congressman Michael San Nicolas has called for Benjamin Cruz to resign from his position as public auditor issuing a statement that Cruz recently accepted the call to run for Washington delegate in the 2020 election.

But Cruz told The Guam Daily Post he said he is "laser focused on the work of the Office of Public Accountability" and hasn't accepted anything from the Democratic Party.

San Nicolas issued a statement on Thursday morning announcing the resignation of former Speaker Judi Won Pat who was recently elected Chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Guam.

The delegate said three weeks after the party selected new officers, Won Pat resigned and "party bosses" determined behind closed doors to remove San Nicolas as the party's congressional delegate nominee by endorsing Cruz to challenge him.

San Nicolas said Cruz had accepted the call "to protect the position of the Party."

"I've thought about going to Congress since 1984. People have come to me every election since 1984," said Cruz. "I've dedicated my life to whatever the people have decided if it's their desire."

While considering a run for Congress has been on his mind for the last few decades, Cruz said his work right now is focused on getting out financial audits and performance audits.

Congressman San Nicolas said he welcomes any opportunity to challenge party politics when they conflict with what's good for the people.

"My only hope is that BJ Cruz resign his office immediately, as the public auditor is by law supposed to be non-partisan, and engaging in Party politics even behind the scenes compromises the purpose of that office to serve the public good," said San Nicolas.

Cruz said he has not spoken to any Democratic party members but he did hear about Won Pat's resignation.

"If and when I makes a decision on running, I'll announce it at that time," the public auditor stated.

The delegate meanwhile said he has dealt with efforts to have him removed before by what he calls the "Democratic Party bosses" and said those efforts have not distracted him from the work that needs to be done.

San Nicolas referred to squaring off against Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero and Speaker Tina Rose Muna Barnes and other Democrat senators over issues like war claims payouts, tax refund deposits and seeking public consent before raising taxes or taking on debt.

Carlo Branch, the governor's chief policy advisor who was speaking as a Democrat only on this issue, said: "As a Democrat I can’t help but feel that Mike has a clear hatred for the party from which he has sought, and continues to seek nomination. He knows our nominee is elected not selected—and while the party endorses no candidate before the Primary, Democrats are free to find a challenger for any seat — that’s how Democracy works."

Branch added: "I don’t know if Speaker Cruz will run or not —but I’ve known Mike since we were kids — he only lashes out when he’s scared."

The Democratic Party of Guam also confirmed the resignation of Won Pat as party chair. In a statement issued Thursday, the party said it does not endorse any candidate for office prior to the party primaries.

The statement went on to say, "Our nominees are chosen by free and fair elections. That means every Democrat has a right to seek office or recruit others to do the same—that is the most basic tenant of a democracy."

Won Pat has not returned calls for comment on the reason for her resignation. 

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