CEC wants to know if OAG can still represent them


The Commonwealth Election Commission is not sure whether the Office of the Attorney General will continue to serve as its legal counsel.

CEC board chair Frances M. Sablan in an interview said they believe that their legal counsel is still the OAG until Attorney General Edward Manibusan would tell them otherwise because they have not received black and white, telling them OAG no longer serve as CEC’s legal counsel.

The legal counsel matter was among the issues discussed during CEC’s board meeting last week. The lack of legal counsel at the board meeting prevented CEC commissioners from making a decision whether they have authority to appoint an executive director.

Julita A. Sablan has been serving as acting CEC executive director for over a year now. She has been working with CEC for 28 years now.

Asked about the legal counsel discussion, Sablan said there was a question back in 2014 when the AG’s position was up for the ballot.

Traditionally, OAG has been CEC’s legal representative.

Sablan said because of AG’s position now being on the ballot there was a question that maybe the office can no longer be CEC’s legal counsel.

The CEC board chair said they were actually seeking for any interested lawyers out there and that they have some, but they have not met since last December.

Sablan said they don’t really need legal representation although they seek them whenever they have any legal questions.

“So that’s the question now. We need to ask the AG’s office whether was that a temporary decision? Or is that a permanent decision that we could no longer utilize them as our legal counsel?” she said.

The chair said CEC needs a lawyer to be with them.

Sablan said if OAG says they could no longer represent them, then CEC has to hire a lawyer.

She pointed out that getting a lawyer, however, is not in CEC’s budget so they need to ask the governor for additional budget.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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