By Pacific Island Times News Staff
The $600-million question: 'Where did the federal money go?'
Moylan sends FOIA request to administration; Adelup slams senator's inquiry as 'fake work'
Guam has received its share of federal funds from the American Rescue Plan, yet there is no sign of this money. "So where did it go?" Sen. James Moylan asked the $600 million question in a Freedom of Information Act request sent to the Department of Administration.
Communications Director Krystal Paco-San Agustin, however, slammed Moylan’s request as "a thinly-veiled attempt to abuse the FOIA process to shout political views into the public sphere, and bully hard-working government agencies into responding in the name of 'transparency.'"
In May, The governor's office announced that Guam had received its allocation of $553 million in a new round of Covid-19 relief aid.
However, Moylan said this amount is not reflected in the records of the Bank of Guam, which is owned by Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero's family and holds the government of Guam's accounts.
"I have recently reviewed the Guam Bankers Association’s quarterly reports and found itinteresting that despite the large deposits made by the federal government with pandemic relieffunds for the island, there does not seem to be a significant increase in the deposits made at theBank of Guam over the various quarters," Moylan said in a FOIA letter to DOA Director Edward Birn.
"I did a comparison analysis of recent years, and once again there seems to be someconsistency across the board when comparing the numbers with other financial institutions on the island," the Republican senator asked.
Moylan asked the administration to respond to the following questions:
1. Were the federal funds from American Rescue Plan deposited into the Bank of Guam or the Bank of Guam Trust? 2. If they were deposited into the Bank of Guam, a). How much was deposited in ARP funds? b). When was the initial ARP amount deposited? c). How much has been spent as of date from those funds? and d) What were they spent on? Please provide specifics. 3. If the funds were deposited into the Bank of Guam Trust, a). Would the Bank of Guam Trust qualify as an “eligible” bank pursuant to Guam law? b). How much is being paid to the Bank of Guam Trust to manage the funds? and c). Did the Trust invest in collateralization as an “eligible” bank would be required to do so? 4. Considering the collateralization requiredand risks associated for such a large deposit, was a request for proposal issued by the government to consider spreading the deposits throughout several “eligible” banks in Guam?
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In Adelup, Paco-San Agustin said Moylan's FOIA request was flawed.
"There is a fundamental misunderstanding on the part of the senator regarding what a FOIA request is, and what the government’s obligations are in responding to such requests," she said.
"These are document requests, not interrogatories. This is such a basic, well-litigated area of the law that it is shocking that a sitting senator is not intimately familiar with its limitations," she added.
Paco-San Agustin urged Moylan to submit a proper FOIA request if he wanted the administration to produce specific documents.
"DOA will properly respond. To the extent the senator believes that FOIA somehow gives him free license to pose philosophical questions about the propriety of executive branch spending, there is a process by which he can attempt to test this theory -- in court," Paco San Agustin said.
She said the questions raised by Moylan "are beneath the dignity of this administration to respond to, and frankly, they should be beneath the dignity of this senator to ask. In a climate of fake news, the senator creates fake work."