The Office of the Public Auditor reminded all employees of CNMI government agencies, branches, departments, autonomous agencies, and public corporations not to use office hours and their resources on political activities.
Public Auditor Michael Pai said their office has received complaints on alleged violations of the CNMI Government Ethics Code Act of 1992 where government employees are allegedly involved in political activities during work hours and using government resources.
There’s a month left before the CNMI general elections where more than 60 are running for close to 40 seats, with all 20 from the House of Representatives.
Section 8534 (b) of the Ethics Act “prohibits any public official or employee from knowingly and willingly causing public funds, time, personnel, and/or equipment to be used for political and/or campaign activity. Violations may be punished under 1 CMC 8572.”
Any individual found guilty of knowingly violating what the law states or giving false, incomplete, and misleading information to OPA shall be fined by no less than $5,000.
“We ask you to remind your employees of the absolute prohibition under CNMI law barring any government public officials or public employees from using government time, money, or resources for political activity,” wrote Pai in a letter posted in government premises.
Some employees were allegedly asking for campaign donations during government office hours. The complaints, if substantiated, would constitute criminal acts and potentially subject the government employee/s to sanctions.
Selling of plates, lunches, and tickets to political fundraisers to benefit a candidate, and recruiting volunteers for campaign activities are some of the types of campaign donations.
“To be clear, if any such political activity has been undertaken by government employees, on government time or using government equipment, it should stop immediately. Such violations of CNMI law will be investigated and, where warranted, it will be prosecuted diligently,” he added.
He is also encouraging individuals to report to their immediate supervisor or division head, or directly to the OPA if one sees such activities.
The OPA is also conducting training on provisions of the Ethics Act to government agencies, branches, departments, autonomous agencies, and public corporations that are interested.
For more information or questions, call Ashley Kost at 322-3937.