Gov. Eloy S. Inos nominated yesterday acting attorney general Gilbert Birnbrich as attorney general, subject to the Senate’s approval. If senators swiftly confirm his appointment, Birnbrich would hold the post for only about five months, when the CNMI’s first elected AG takes his oath of office in January.
Senate President Ralph Torres (R-Saipan) told Saipan Tribune yesterday that the nomination will be immediately forwarded to the Committee on Executive Appointments and Government Investigations for review and recommendation.
Press secretary Angel Demapan said if the Senate confirm Birnbrich’s nomination, “he will become the CNMI’s last appointed attorney general” as voters will elect an AG for the first time in the November general elections.
Birnbrich has been with the Office of the Attorney General for the last few years and previously served as chief of the Civil Division before then-AG Joey Patrick San Nicolas tapped him as deputy AG. Birnbrich has been serving as acting AG since San Nicolas’ resignation in early July. San Nicolas is seeking election as Tinian mayor.
The governor, in his one-page letter to the Senate yesterday, said he’s confident that Birnbrich is qualified to fulfill the vital responsibilities of the office and to provide the necessary leadership in preparation for an elected AG to assume office.
“I am confident that you will perform the duties of the attorney general commendably and ensure that the objectives and mission of the OAG are fully realized during this period and in preparation for an elected attorney general,” the governor said in his letter to Birnbrich.
Birnbrich, for his part, thanks the governor, as well as those who he has worked with, for their trust in him as he prepares to undertake this responsibility.
There are two individuals vying for the elected AG post: retired Superior Court presiding judge Edward Manibusan and attorney Michael Evangelista.
The November AG election comes two years after voters ratified in 2012 House Vice Speaker Frank Dela Cruz’s (Ind-Saipan) legislative initiative making the AG position an elected rather than an appointed one. The vote came amid an investigation on former AG Edward Taylor Buckingham III, who was eventually found guilty of seven of eight public corruption charges.