Dem Debates Conveniently Ignore Puerto Rico as FBI Corruption Investigation News Breaks


On the Democratic side, the sudden silence is deafening.

After Hurricane Maria roared through Puerto Rico in September of 2017, denuding landscape, destroying infrastructure and leaving the island literally powerless for months, Democrat denunciations of President Donald Trump weren’t hard to find.

But during the Democratic debates this week in Florida, home to more than 1 million Puerto Ricans, the island barely merited a mention. With the most recent news out of the American territory, they might have good reasons to be quiet.

The FBI is investigating government officials on the island, probing how public contracts are awarded, according to Bloomberg News.

Douglas Leff, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Puerto Rico office, told San Juan’s Radio Isla on Tuesday that arrests might be coming soon from the widespread probe, Bloomberg reported.

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“It’s fair to say that this is going to be a very busy summer for us,” he said.

On Monday, Raul Maldonado, the island’s treasury secretary, was asked to resign by Puerto Rico’s Democratic Gov. Ricardo Rossello after Maldonado told a radio interviewer there was an “institutional mafia” at work in his department and that he himself had been offered bribes several times, according to The Associated Press.

Maldonado’s son responded by calling Rossello “corrupt” in relation to the distribution of hurricane relief supplies from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, according to the Latino-issue oriented website LatinoRebels.

On Tuesday, the head of the island’s insurance administration, Ángela Ávila, resigned only hours after Rossello’s chief of staff, Ricardo Llerandi, testified before a federal grand jury investigating a company that had done consulting work for the insurance administration.

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In other words, it’s a snake pit of public corruption (allegedly, of course).

And, this isn’t the first major government corruption news to come out of the island since Maria swept through.

In October, FBI agents descended on government offices in raids connected to municipal contracts unrelated to storm repair work.

Trump accused the island’s government of mismanaging the relief money it received from the federal government in a tweet that same month.

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However, it is the first wave of corruption investigations in Puerto Rico to be hitting the news after the Democratic primary contest for 2020 started.

And even though the Democratic debates this week that officially kicked off the primary took place in the coveted swing state of Florida, the topic of the island was essentially ignored.

As NBC News noted, one candidate, Julian Castro, mentioned the island once.

Is it possible the Democrats didn’t want to make an argument about bias against Puerto Rico in front of an audience that knew the situation on the island all too well?

When pretending to stand up for Puerto Rico against alleged racism was a cheap, easy way to bash the Trump White House, Democrats were all in.

Now that the news is about FBI agents, resignations of top officials and FBI probes uncovering corruption on the island, the Democratic silence is deafening.

Completely understandable from the standpoint of cynical, shallow politicians, but deafening and telling all the same.

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Joe has spent more than 30 years as a reporter, copy editor and metro desk editor in newsrooms in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Florida. He's been with Liftable Media since 2015.
Joe has spent more than 30 years as a reporter, copy editor and metro editor in newsrooms in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Florida. He's been with Liftable Media since 2015. Largely a product of Catholic schools, who discovered Ayn Rand in college, Joe is a lifelong newspaperman who learned enough about the trade to be skeptical of every word ever written. He was also lucky enough to have a job that didn't need a printing press to do it.