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Guam ethics panel dismisses seven complaints, digs deeper into one case

Updated: Jan 3

 

Ethics 2: Government employees attend an ethics training conducted by Atty. Vince Camacho at the University of Guam CLASS Lecture Hall on Dec. 15, 2023. Photo courtesy of GEC

By Pacific Island Times News Staff


The Guam Ethics Commission has dismissed seven of the eight recently adjudicated ethics complaints filed with the panel. One case is proceeding for further investigation.

 

"We are pleased with the progress we have made in promoting ethical behavior and holding individuals accountable for their actions,” said Jesse Quenga, executive director of the commission.

 

Details of the cases that were adjudicated on Dec. 15 were not publicly released.

 

As of October 2023, the ethics body has received 53 cases since the commission began receiving complaints in March 2022, according to a report posted on its website.

 

In October, the commission transmitted seven ethics complaints to the Office of the Attorney General, recommending criminal investigations into the cases.


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The commission conducts investigations into violations of ethical standards, encompassing various aspects such as the prohibition against gifts, required reporting of gifts, prohibition on government employee’s use of confidential information, prohibition against unfair treatment, prohibition against conflicts of interest, prohibition on certain contracts with government employees, requirement to file certain Guam Election Commission reports and certain restrictions on post-employment.


"When the Commission believes there is cause for possible filing of criminal charges, it shall refer the case to the Office of the Attorney General or appropriate party for its disposition," Quenga said.


With respect to former employees, Quenga said the commission may issue a public statement of its findings and conclusions, and the Attorney General may exercise whatever legal or equitable remedies are available to Guam.


If the commission finds that the violation committed by an employee is non-criminal in nature, the commission will remand the case to the agency with the recommendation to impose the corresponding punishment based on the agency’s personnel rules and regulations.


"The commission can issue advisory opinions on ethical matters to guide public officials and employees. These opinions help to clarify the application of ethics laws and rules in specific situations," Quenga said.


The ethics commission said it “made strides in promoting ethical behavior through the Ethics in Government Program.”

 

At last month’s meeting, the commission reported that an additional 2,770 employees completed the mandatory program.

 

“Despite the significant disruption caused by Typhoon Mawar to government operations, the level of completion achieved is truly exceptional,” the commission said in a press release.


The number of employees who recently completed the program surpassed last year's reported number by 10 percent, the commission said.


The Guam Ethics Commission received recognition in the Ethics Bluebook publication, which was unveiled at the 45th annual conference for the Council on Governmental Ethics Laws.

 

This publication serves as a valuable resource document shared across the North American region, emphasizing best practices for promoting compliance with ethical laws and holding government officials accountable to the public. This marks the first time that the Guam Ethics Commission has been featured in this esteemed publication.

 

“Our contributions to the Ethics Bluebook publication are a testament to our dedication and hard work, and we will continue to strive for ethical excellence in the years ahead,” Quenga said.


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