Post-storm recovery in Puerto Rico has proved to be one of the most massive relief efforts in modern American history. Despite the Federal government’s extensive response, responders face numerous challenges. One of the biggest obstacles: local political leaders.
According to The Daily Caller, the FBI is seeking to corroborate multiple allegations across the island saying that Puerto Rican officials are keeping FEMA supplies from the public and giving them selectively to their friends, political supporters, and campaign donors.
FBI Special Agent Carlos Osorio detailed the nature of these shocking misconduct allegations. “People call us and tell us some misappropriation of some goods and supplies by supposedly politicians, not necessarily mayors, but people that work for the mayors in certain towns,” Osorio said.
Osorio explained that officials are allegedly using federally-provided supplies for political purposes. “They’re supposedly withholding these goods and these supplies and instead of handing them out to people who really need them, [there are claims] that [local officials] are assigning them to their buddies first–people that have voted for them or people that contributed to their campaigns or what not.”
Osorio denied that the FBI has opened an investigation, but states the Bureau is “presently corroborating these allegations.” The actions of Puerto Rican politicians have prompted the Federal government to take a more direct hand in the distribution of supplies.
As Christian News Alerts reported, the US Department of Defense has taken over distribution. Between 10-20 soldiers are being posted to every staging site and personally delivering supplies to every neighborhood.
According to Osorio, the challenge is ensuring supplies continue to be distributed appropriately when military personnel or other federal agents are out-of-sight.
“We’ll distribute the [goods and supplies] because we have to follow certain protocols, and that’s what [local officials] said they were doing, when they were waiting for federal officials to leave, and the allegations are they are handing [relief] out through back doors and stuff like that to their buddies,” Osorio said.
The FBI says corruption is allegedly taking place in six of Puerto Rico’s 78 municipalities, but it has not revealed the names of the locations.
FBI is seeking to corroborate multiple allegations across the island saying that Puerto Rican officials are keeping FEMA supplies from the public and giving them selectively to their friends, political supporters, and campaign donors. Do you suspect corruption here?
Rosa Emilia Rodriguez, the federal prosecutor on the island, has also spoken about the issue. When asked on Wednesday about a Puerto Rican representative who has been accused of withholding relief supplies, Rodriguez stated: “I do not know him and I do not know the facts. I do not think it would be proper to comment on that. We are not going to individualize it. But, anyone who is withholding supplies is in violation of federal and state law. That has not changed. The (criminal prosecution) remains the same situation.”
Rodriguez explained that local politicians guilty of misconduct quickly dispense of evidence when they become the subject of suspicions. “Yesterday there was a government official from a municipality who gave everything he had to deliver very fast and it prevented us from charging him, and I suspect that now there will be many more who do not want to keep the supplies. But, definitely, what we get will be processed.”
President Trump emphasized his view that Puerto Rico’s territorial government must assume responsibility for its people. “We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!” Trump posted to Twitter on Thursday.