Fight against corruption is at the center of race for AG
Douglas Moylan Leevin Camacho Gary Frank Gumataotao
The conduct and competence of the Guam government is getting a lot of attention in an election year on the island. Name the agency and there’s a scandal or alleged scandal unfolding, be it Guam Memorial Hospital, the Police Department, the Chamorro Land Trust and the list goes on and on.
If corruption and/or lawbreaking are responsible for these matters, the attorney general, as Guam’s legal officer, is a major actor or as many have contended over the years, non-actor in investigating the problems and prosecuting wrong-doers.
All three of the non-partisan candidates, Douglas Moylan, Leevin Camacho and Gary Frank Gumataotao face the voters first in the Aug. 25 primary. The two survivors will be on the November ballot, hoping to succeed Elizabeth Barret-Anderson, who decided not to seek reelection.
All three have clear Guam roots and have practiced law here for many years. Following one-term as the Guam’s first elected attorney general from 2004 to 2006, Moylan has been a practicing attorney, describing his specialties as general criminal and civil cases.
In the course of 12 years of practice, Camacho is best known for his activities in environmental law, including the well-publicized efforts to save the Pagat Village area from encroachment by a military firing range and to block construction of a high-rise tower in southern Guam.
Gumataotao has been a player for decades, both as an attorney and through his involvement in the Guam private sector. In 2014, he ran for lieutenant governor with former Governor Carl Gutierrez.
Guam’s attorney general position became an elected office in 2002, a move aimed at avoiding a loyalty conflict and ensure neutral investigation into cases involving the administration. Prior to 2002, the attorney general was appointed by the governor. The transition years mostly entailed a struggle to define the scope and limitations of the powers of the chief legal office. Moylan, who emerged as a controversial figure, prosecuted a number of cases involving previous administration’s officials — with equal amount of feats and failures.
Over the years, however, the government’s questionable actions have been unchallenged.
Sensing the growing public discontent with the performance of the government, all three candidates have presented themselves as corruption fighters, though to somewhat different degrees.
Moylan claims credit for successful prosecution of 26 government corruption cases during his tenure as attorney general. “No one is perfect, but I can assure you that mistakes that occurred in the past will not recur again,” he said. “Mutual and better communication and cooperation with the governor will be critical and has not been paid sufficient attention to by my successors since I left office in 2006.”
Camacho vows to investigate allegations of government corruptions and hold the culprits accountable. “One of my top priorities will be to look at strengthening the whistleblower protection statutes. The vast majority of government of Guam employees want to do the right thing. But they also have families to care for and bills to pay. We need to ensure that if they come forward with information about government mismanagement, they are protected,” he said. “And while eliminating corruption is an important duty of the attorney general, it is not the only one. We must explore new ways to improve other critical services that are provided by the Office of the Attorney General.”
Gumataotao noted that current government scandals are occurring while public officials are raising taxes and crying wolf. “Where is the attorney general? Where are the investigations by the attorney general? Where are the indictments? Where are the trials?” he asked. “Commit the crime and do the time! Gumataotao will investigate all credible reports of waste, fraud and abuse. We will have a 24-hour hotline for corruption. I will prosecute you no matter what your politics, religion, family, ethnicity, sex or age.”