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NEWS: Torres defender took $8,800 in allowances, refuses to disclose receipts

(Editor's note: This is the tenth in an expose of the members of the Commonwealth Legislature, who have taken monthly allowances on top of their salaries)

CHAPTER 10: Ivan Blanco

By Jacob Nakamura

(Tumon, Guam) The Republican chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and one of the top defenders of Gov. Ralph Torres may have personal reasons for dragging his committee's inquiry into Mr. Torres's spending of the Commonwealth's money.

Precinct 3 Congressman Ivan Blanco took $8,800 in legislative allowances in 2019; he is a among the majority of his Republican colleagues who refuse to disclose the receipts of his spending of the allowance.

According to documents from the Department of Finance, Mr. Blanco began receiving allowances in February 2019, when he requested and received $1,000. He took $2,500 the following month, skipped April, then took another $1,000 in May 2019.

Mr. Blanco did not take an allowance in June, then in July received $500. For the remainder of Fiscal Year 2019, Mr. Blanco took $1,000, $300, and $2,500 for August, September, and October, respectively.

The House Committee on Ways and Means is the Commonwealth's vanguard of fiscal policy. While DOF manages the government's cash flow, the Legislature through Ways and Means determines the parameters of spending.

The Legislature years ago authorized allowances for its Tinian and Rota legislative delegations to defray costs of functioning in both their home islands and in Saipan. In January 2019 the Legislature changed its rules to allow its Saipan legislators to take the allowance, capped at $5,000 each month, as well.

Most Republicans in both the House and the Senate take the monthly allowances, according to documents Kandit received from the Department of Finance resulting from an Open Government Act request. Most Republicans refused to disclose the receipts of their spending of these allowances.

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