By Nancy I. Maanao
CNMI House Rep. Tina Sablan (D-Saipan) publicly revealed an argument Rep. Joseph "Leepan" Guerrero (R-Saipan) and she had while the Commonwealth House of Representatives was on a recess from session, and the microphones were off. According to Sablan's account of events, Mr. Guerrero made a damning admission of illegal conduct.
Here is Ms. Sablan's expose of the incident, which she published on her Facebook page following an article in the Marianas Variety that did not include the full context of the overheard conversation:
"Rep. Leepan Guerrero tried to make a motion to yank his internet gaming bill out of committee and place it on the floor for action - without a hearing, without a committee report, and while the committee of jurisdiction is still in the middle of a relevant oversight investigation. Gaming Chair Ed Propst objected. I, as Vice-Chair, also objected.
"News articles covered some of the heated exchange with our Republican colleagues. But here's what else I said that the reporters couldn't hear, and that I would have been more than happy to say again had I been asked:
1. "Who is the investor?" - Rep. Leepan said he had an investor in the wings, waiting to launch an internet gaming enterprise here. He refused to say who, though he did claim it's "not IPI."
2. "Is the investor a registered lobbyist?" - Rep. Leepan also would not answer this.
3. "If the investor is not a registered lobbyist, and is lobbying you or any of us to pass this bill, then the investor is already breaking the law."
"Rep. Leepan walked out of the Chamber shortly after.
"I remarked to my colleagues remaining in the room that this is how IPI started, too: so-called investors and non-registered lobbyists meeting behind closed doors with lawmakers, lots of promises made (not to mention all-expense paid trips to Hong Kong and Macau and plenty of wining and dining), and a rush to pass controversial, special-interest legislation.
"Will we ever learn?
"As if the IPI debacle isn't shameful enough - INTERNET GAMING is a notorious avenue for money laundering and organized crime, extremely difficult to monitor, and the easiest route to violating federal laws like the Wire Act and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.
"If INTERNET GAMING is what Governor Torres and his Republican allies in the House mean by "revenue-generating bills" that they are pushing to impose on the people of this Commonwealth, then it seems they haven't learned a thing."