House of Representatives Judiciary and Governmental Operations Committee chair Rep. Celina R. Babauta (D-Saipan) has clarified that the subpoena they issued to Office of the Governor’s chief of staff William “Wil” Mendiola Castro does not implicate him in his current official capacity.
This developed as Babauta said yesterday that barring any setbacks with COVID-19, they will proceed with the scheduled JGO hearing this Tuesday, Nov. 16. Two legislative staff have tested positive for the virus.
Babauta said the JGO Committee’s inquiry is limited to Castro’s personal knowledge of certain requests for reimbursement and travel claims made by Gov. Ralph DLG. Torres during a period preceding Castro’s appointment as chief of staff.
She clarified the scope of the JGO’s subpoena in her email Wednesday to Torres’ Washington D.C.-based counsel, Ross Garber, and the Office of the Governor’s counsel Gilbert Birnbrich.
Babauta’s email was in response to Birnbrich’s and Garber’s letters to her on Nov. 5 and 10, 2021.
The JGO is investigating Torres’ expenditures of public funds and travels.
House sergeant-at-arms Pedro O. Towai served last week the subpoena commanding Castro to appear and testify before the JGO on Nov 19 at 10:30pm.
Castro, who was just recently hired as chief of staff, was commanded to testify about reimbursement for meals, hostings, and gifts claimed by or on behalf of Torres and/or first lady Diann Torres. He will also be asked to testify about travel and meetings conducted or claimed by or on behalf of Torres and/or Diann Torres, including but not limited to reimbursement requests.
The JGO also issued subpoenas to three police officers who are assigned as personal security detail with the governor and his wife.