LatinoJustice PRLDEF and Center for Investigative Journalism Request Information About Puerto Rico’s Fiscal Control Board
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 27th, 2016
CONTACT: John Garcia, Director of Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org, (212) 739-7513, (917) 673-9095
San Juan, PR – Several rights groups filed a request with the White House, Treasury Department and the Office of Government Ethics on January 26, 2017 under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA for information concerning the federal fiscal control board established under the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA).The Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI) began the comprehensive, public and legal process with the support of LatinoJustice PRLDEF and the Center for Constitutional Rights, both based in New York, who are representing CPI with respect to the FOIA requests.
"CPI decided to take more forceful action to publicize its requests for information, given the secrecy with which the federal fiscal control board has been managed, including the process of appointing members, and in particular with respect to documents pertaining to ethical conflicts and disclosure of financial interests, which should have been filed months ago and yet still cannot be found,” said Carla Minet, Executive Director of CPI.
The requests are for all available records related to the board, including but not limited to the materials regarding the seven board members, as well as the representative of the Governor on the board, respectively: José Carrion, Andrew Biggs, Carlos Garcia, Arthur J. González, José Ramón González, Ana Matosantos, David Skeel and Elías Sánchez.
“This board was never asked for nor elected by the people of Puerto Rico. It was imposed by the federal government, and Puerto Ricans deserve to know how these members were chosen, what potential conflicts of interest they may have and how they engage in their decision-making process. This board has the authority to make decisions establishing fiscal and public policies affecting 3.5 million people, and the lack of transparency in their decision-making as evidenced by their first six months of operation, is anti-democratic and violates the principles of good governance. The role of the press and public in demanding answers from this board is critical," said Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan, Associate Counsel with LatinoJustice PRLDEF.
In particular, CPI has also requested information concerning: the criteria used to evaluate and select the candidates for the board as well as how these criteria were determined to be the most useful for the skills necessary in carrying out the board's functions; details of the weight given to each criterion in evaluating each candidate’s nomination for the board; records concerning which agencies, entities or individuals participated in determining the criteria to be used in assessing candidates for the board; documents submitted by each candidate for consideration during his or her appointment, including financial disclosures and documents, forms or information on conflicts of interest, personal and professional background, statement of interests, who recommended them, and their professional qualifications for participating on the board.
“PROMESA was signed into law by a U.S. president that Puerto Ricans have no say in electing, to govern a debt crisis impacted in no small way by U.S. economic policies and laws,” said Stephanie Llanes, a fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights. “With this board of unelected members about whom little is known, real democracy is even further removed from reach of the people. And we have seen the harm that can result from these types of ‘emergency management’ fixes have been invoked elsewhere.”
CPI, as an organization dedicated to transparency and access to information, also requested records on how each candidate was assessed according to the criteria and what the results of their evaluations were; documents entailing which entities or personnel participated in the evaluation process for candidates for the Board; and how the conflicts of interest policy was created, including who participated in determining whether conflicts of interest existed for candidates.
CPI also requested information regarding how conflicts of interest of the board candidates were determined and, what, if any, conflicts were found and how they were resolved. Additionally, documents related to the professional and personal background of all candidates were solicited. Finally, CPI requested communications, queries or requests for information, documents, reports or data exchanged between any member of the board, or its staff, and either the Department of Treasury ( or any official of the Department of the Treasury) or any other agency or official of the federal government concerning the work of the board.
About LatinoJustice PRLDEF LatinoJustice PRLDEF is one of the foremost national nonprofit civil rights legal defense and education funds working to advance, promote, and protect the legal rights of Latina/os throughout the nation. Our work is focused on addressing systemic discrimination and ensuring equal access to justice in the advancement of voting rights, housing rights, educational equity, immigrant rights, language access rights, employment rights, and workplace justice.
About the Center for Investigative Journalism Established in 2007, the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI) is an independent, non-profit organization that promotes and defends the right of access to citizens' information through journalistic research, education and the promotion of transparency of public and private powers.
About the Center for Constitutional Rights CCR is a non-profit, public interest, legal, and public education organization that engages in litigation, public advocacy, and the production of publications in the fields of civil and international human rights. CCR’s diverse dockets include litigation and advocacy around policing, and racial and ethnic profiling. CCR is a member of several networks nationally and provides legal support to civil rights movements.