I write an open letter to the Office of the Public Auditor, the Commonwealth Election Commission, and the Office of the Attorney General on a matter which warrants attention prior to the next election in the CNMI as it relates to the threat of vote buying of our elected positions.
It has been reported that Rep. Edwin Propst has taken outside employment at a local car dealership while remaining a CNMI legislator. I have had family members who sold cars for a living, and on hearing this, I was extremely worried about the effects such employment would have on the sanctity of our electoral process.
It is common knowledge that car dealers sell cars often below the listed value for customers to garner a deal. Dealers are allowed this opportunity as it generates greater sales for the company. This technique is often at the discretion of the dealer and their supervisor.
The concern I have is that every reduction in price on a vehicle is essentially money given to the car buyer, whether it be $1 or $2,000. When Rep. Propst discounts a car, is he doing so as a car dealer or as an elected official who relies on those customers to continue to vote for him? Does he give better deals to those who support him or those he wishes to support him? Can Ed Propst the car dealer be separated from Ed Propst the representative?
Whatever the situation is, the officials who maintain the ethics of our government should investigate who Rep. Propst has sold cars to, how much did they purchase the vehicle, and the reasons behind any discounts he has provided to them.
We would not tolerate an elected official giving a potential voter $10. Will we allow an elected official freely giving away thousands of dollars in exchange for votes this coming election?
I urge the Public Auditor, the Election Commission, and the Attorney General’s Office to look into this matter before our next election is bought and paid for by someone like this.
Brian Teregeyo Romolor