Moylan: Gov, lt. gov treating public funds as their own campaign kitty
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
The administration's information ads for federally funded programs are thinly veiled as political campaign materials for Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero and Lt. Gov. Josh Tenorio, who are seeking reelection this year, according to Sen. James Moylan, who introduced a bill today seeking restrictions on the use of public funds.
Moylan said the yet-to-be-numbered bill does not prevent the use of general, special, or federal funds for purchasing advertisements, provided they are within the parameters set by the proposed legislation.
“We have been seeing full page ads on almost a daily basis in the newspapers, which are intended to promote federally funded programs, yet these ads are depicted as campaign ads, with a sizable picture of the governor and lt. governor, inclusive of quotes which resonate with political advertising," Moylan said.
"Because no disclaimer is noted in these ads, they are not funded by the governor’s re-election committee, thus they must be funded by either the general or federal funds," he added.
Communications director Krystal Paco-San Agustin said the ads in question were not political in nature.
"Public outreach is essential to our strategy to promote and increase participation in our pandemic economic recovery programs," she said.
Besides the general revenue collected from local taxes, Guam has received $553 million in stimulus grants under President Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan Act.
Moylan said federal funds must be used prudently for their intended purposes that do not include political campaign.
"When these ads seem to be promoting a re-election bid, versus the actual program, it echoes misuse. Plus, if federal relief funds are being utilized to pay for these $1,000 full page, political ads, you question who in the community is being shortchanged," the senator said.
Moylan noted, for example, the administration's ads for rental program, which he said "promote a politically motivated message from the administration on why the program was considered."
The advertised programs, Moylan said, do not live up to their promises.
"If you listen to the community, so many residents are experiencing denied applications. Maybe instead of placing the faces of the governor and lt. governor in the ad, that space could have been used to detail qualifications for the program," he said.
Under the bill, "political advertisements" are defined as "any advertising published in a newspaper, magazine, or other periodical, or is broadcast by radio or television, or is promoted digitally, where the advertising depicts a message to promote an elected official or officials, their campaign, their platform, or campaign message, inclusive, but not limited to a picture of the elected official or officials in the advertisement."
"If you want to promote programs and add your face to them, or even promote your campaign, then please feel free to use your own funds or monies from your campaign. But let’s not use government funds for political purposes. It’s called abuse of power,” Moylan said, apparentlhy addressing the governor and lt. governor.