By Johnnie Rosario
Sen. Jim Moylan prefers the seven members of the Guam Ethics Commission be elected by the people, rather than appointed by the governor and confirmed by the legislature.
"This Act allows the Guam Ethics Commission to serve the purpose which it was intended to by allowing the voters of Guam, and not elected officials, to select those whom they wish to serve in the capacity of this Commission," Mr. Moylan states in his Bill No. 105-36. If enacted, the proposed statute will turn the current ethics commission membership from an appointed body into an elected one. The seven members, according to the legislation, will be elected on a non-partisan ballot beginning the General Election of 2022. The top four vote-getters will serve a term of four years, while the next three highest vote getters will serve a two year term.
The qualifications for the members nearly mirror those for senator on Guam. A person is disqualified from candidacy if he or she is a government employee, or has an immediate family member who is a government employee.
The Guam Ethics Commission statute has been around since 2004. Two governors - Felix Camacho and Eddie Calvo - both failed the populate the commission, despite numerous attempts by lawmakers to have the governors appoint members. In 2019, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero appointed the first members of the commission. Earlier this year, the commission selected an executive director. The commission exists to provide the public an administrative process that will ferret out unethical conduct in the government of Guam.
“I commend Governor Leon Guerrero for enacting the Guam Ethics Commission, and there are many opportunities to strengthen the responsibilities and oversight of the Commission, however we must first assure that we have an independent body in place. This legislation allows the voters of Guam, and not elected officials, to select who will sit within an entity entrusted with assuring that ethical standards are met in public service.”, stated Senator Moylan. “The election process of this elected Commission would be very similar to that of the Consolidated Commission on Utilities.”, added Senator Moylan.
Moylan's legislation also gives the commission subpoena powers, and directs that the Superior Court may compel the attendance of those who fail to comply with a subpoena from the Guam Ethics Commission, or punish them for contempt.
Reporting unethical conduct, misconduct
The legislation adds the following paragraph to the Guam Ethics Commission law:
"The Commission shall create a secure and anonymous reporting channel, inclusive but not limited to online access, for any individual who wishes to report any ethical standards violated pursuant to Article 2 of this Chapter. The Commission shall protect the identity of the reporting individual and shall be authorized to develop the criteria needed to determine credible complaints. The Commission shall respond to any report no more than thirty (30) days from the date of an individuals submitted complaint."
“This is phase one in the process of bringing back the consumer confidence of island residents in their government. My team and I are still reviewing the responsibilities of the Commission, along with penalties across the board for violations such as official misconduct. Additional measures are forthcoming.”, stated Senator Moylan. “While we have so many great employees in the public sector, there are a few bad apples which impact the image of our government. It is time to be serious about addressing these issues and supporting those who work effortlessly in improving service for the community. I look forward to working with the Governor in providing the support for the Commission, and I am also optimistic that my colleagues in the legislature will agree that voters and not elected officials, should seat members of this non-political Commission.”, added Senator Moylan.