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As part of the American political family, the people of the Northern Marianas expect the full protection of federal law, specifically we expect the U.S. Department of Justice to take aggressive action against public corruption in our islands.
But we have been disappointed.
We do not understand how the U.S. Attorney can sit idly by, when day after day our news media report on the abuse of office by elected officials in the Northern Marianas:
· Police officials and higher-ups appear to have used their authority to obstruct justice, facilitating the escape of Attorney General Edward Buckingham to avoid charges of public corruption.
The U.S. Department of Interior Office of Inspector General found that Mr. Buckingham may have violated CNMI ethics laws in approving a contract for management of federal Recovery Act funds.
· The U.S. Office of Special Counsel found that Mr. Buckingham may have voilated the Hatch Act by using government time, personnel, and other resources for political purposes related to a federal election.
· A federal prisoner was released from prison without court order allegedly to meet with Governor Fitial for purposes of giving him a “massage.”
· Federally funded employees of the Northern Marianas government have lost their jobs or been threatened with reprisal for exercising their right to support candidates for public office on their own time and using their own resources.
· The terms of federal grants regarding staffing are ignored, further increasing the power of local government officials to create a climate of fear and tighten control over employees’ freedom of political expression.
Meanwhile, requests from the public and from elected officials in the Northern Marinas for action by the U.S. Department of Justice in our islands to date seem to fall on deaf ears. Perhaps, this is because the Northern Marianas still lacks its own U.S. Attorney, for whom law enforcement in our islands would be the priority, not an afterthought.
We, the undersigned, therefore, petition U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to take positive and public action to assure the U.S. citizens of the Northern Mariana Islands that federal law will be fully enforced in our islands. We demand that he use his authority to investigate thoroughly the all too apparent corruption in our local government and bring to justice those who abuse the public trust.
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