Republicans: Is the Guam governor saving ARP funds for political spending?
Does the administration even have a plan? For the nth time, the Republican Party of Guam tossed this question to Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero, expressing frustration over the administration's silence over the spending programs for millions in new Covid-relief funds Guam has received under the American Rescue Plan.
"Is it possible that Governor Leon Guerrero wants to hold the funds until 2022, as it can be used to hire family and friends, or invest in some optics for her re-election campaign, as that would be the political thing to do?" the Republican Party said in a statement. "This is, unfortunately, taking place in some states."
Upon the governor's request, the 36th Guam Legislature last month presented a list of spending recommendations for the $553 million Guam has received from the federal government.
"Ironically, this is the same Governor who made it known in a stern fashion on more than one occasion, that she, and only she, can determine how federal dollars are spent on the island," the Republican Parrty said. "So, the question now is, since the legislature shared their plan, why does she refuse to do the same in return? What does she have to hide?"
The party noted that some states and territories have started spending their ARP funds, but on Guam the money remains untouched in the government’s account.
The Bank of Guam, owned by the governor's family, holds GovGuam accounts.
"The Republican Party of Guam simply asks the Leon Guerrero administration to be honest and transparent, and simply advise the people of Guam on how these federal dollars will be spent," the party's statement reads? "The monies were not provided for political purposes, or re-election campaigns, they were provided to help the island recover from this economic crisis."
In response, the Democratic Party of Guam characterized the GOP's statements as "reckless, wrong and inaccurate."
"Federal guidelines on how this money can be spent are not yet final and spending that money without these final rules could result in taxpayers owing millions because the GOP wanted to spend money before the rules were final," said Chirag Bhojwani, executive director of the party.
He said once the final guidelines are known, the draft spending plan will be published.
"Our expenditures will be subject to a federal audit, and everyone will know these funds are being spent in line with federal policy," Bhojwani added.
"The GOP knows each of these facts but as they prepare for a gubernatorial election they obviously care more about laying blame than solving problems. That says way more about their leadership than it does about ours.”