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Babauta begins corruption investigation into Gov. Ralph Torres

By Troy Torres

Congresswoman Celina Roberto Babauta (D-Saipan), has requested the travel and personnel documents related to allegations of corruption against Gov. Ralph Torres and his wife, first lady Diann Torres.

The congresswoman made the inquiry as the chairwoman of the powerful House Judiciary and Government Operations Committee to the Office of Personnel Management and the Marianas Visitors Authority.

"As the Chair of the House Committee on JGO and in line with my duties, pursuant to the authority set forth in Article II, Section 14 (b) of the Northern Mariana Islands Constitution, I am formally requesting your assistance in providing un-redacted, except as required by statute, unaltered, and clear copies of any and all documents, Notifications of Personnel Actions, relating to new hires, promotions, amendments to contracts with or without salary increases related to Department Secretaries and all other excepted service employment contracts beginning from January 2019 until present." - Ms. Babauta's email to the OPM

"I am formally requesting your assistance in providing un-redacted, unaltered and clear copies of any and all travel documents relating to Governor Ralph DLG Torres and Mrs. Diann Tudela Torres funded either, in part or whole, by the Marianas Visitors Authority beginning from January 2015 until present, including all supporting documents i.e. travel authorizations, boarding passes, travel advances, receipts, trip reports and reimbursements related to said travels." - excerpt from Ms. Babauta's email to the MVA

This probe is the rebirth of the Commonwealth Legislature's efforts to investigate Mr. Torres for corruption. The first inquiry began last year, when the Democrats were the minority party in the CNMI House of Representatives. The minority members introduced hundreds of pages of documents, including copies of travel itineraries, receipts, and reimbursement requests that showed Mr. Torres traveled illegally, purchased tens of thousands of dollars of items of a personal nature off taxpayer dime, and received reimbursement for personal expenses. His wife also traveled first class on several occasions, which is against CNMI law.

Ms. Babauta, who is a freshman representative, now belongs to the majority party in the House, and has told Kandit News her constituents demand accountability and a thorough search for the truth.

The congresswoman is expected to formally announce the opening of this inquiry exclusively on Kandit Live today, Wednesday, April 14.

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