San Nicolas accused of using House funds for 'political ads'
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
A Guam lawyer today lodged an ethics complaint against Congressman Michael San Nicolas, Guam’s delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives, over his alleged use of congressional funds for advertising placements purportedly intended for “political campaign.”
“The advertisement explicitly thanks someone for the federal funds and at the end of the advertisement it states that it was paid for with official funds of ‘The Office of Congressman Michael F.Q. San Nicolas,’” Peter John Santos, a lawyer with the Alternate Public Defender’s Office, wrote in an email to the Office of Congressional Ethics. “This strongly suggests and implies that the funds were secured by Congressman Michael F.Q. San Nicolas.”
Santos emphasized that he filed the complaint in his own capacity as a taxpayer and not as a representative of the APD.
Santos referred to the advertisements in local publications and radio stations bearing testimonials from local businessmen Mark Baldyga and Jeff Pleadwell, who thanked the federal government for the Covid-19 relief aid.
The complaint also noted the advertising copy also displays the House of Representatives logo and San Nicolas’s official photo.
San Nicolas, who is serving his second term in Congress, has yet to make an official announcement about reelection plans. There are speculations that he would run for governor.
He did not respond to the Pacific Island Times' request for comment.
Santos said congressional resources must be used for the performance of official business of the House, and not for political purposes.
“The advertisements were paid for ‘with official funds’ but they are clearly political and are being used for campaign purposes, namely the reelection of Cong. San Nicolas,” Santos said.
This is an overt and blatant reelection advertisement not in spirit with authorization by the federal government to run public service announcements for Covid-19 related assistance,” he added.
The new ethics complaint against the Guam delegate emerged as the OCE prepares to hear a previously filed case.
Last year, the House ethics committee chaired Rep. Theodore E. Deutch (D-Florida), released a report detailing a previously filed ethics case against San Nicolas.
The ethics case report, filed on Feb. 10, 2020, alleged that "San Nicolas may have accepted cash contributions that were in excess of FEC limits for individual donors and in excess of the limits for cash contributions. If San Nicolas accepted such contributions, then he may have violated House rules, standards of conduct, and federal law."
John Paul Manuel, the former campaign chairman for San Nicolas, earlier told the ethics panel that the Guam delegate accepted $10,000 in unreported cash from a local businessman, Andrew Park, during his initial run for Congress.
Meanwhile, Santos earlier picked up a candidate packet for the congressional race, but he said he has not filed his candidacy.
"(San Nicolas') performance has proven to be the worst of all Guam delegates in history, and compared to his counterparts currently in Congress, he falls extremely short," Santos said.
"Aside from the distinction of having the poorest performance, he also has the distinction of having so many ethical complaints against him involving so many different issues. Guam's delegate only has their reputation to use as currency in Congress and MSN has a very dark cloud hanging over him based on his dismal record and problems with his investigations of ethics violations and violations of federal criminal laws," Santos added.