Puerto Rico Mayor Facing Fraud Charges Over $3 Million in Federal Funds


“Blame Donald Trump.” That seems to be the mantra of the left and the media these days, with almost every negative news story connected to the president in some way.

That was certainly who got the blame after Hurricane Maria hit the island of Puerto Rico back in October 2017.

Despite the fact that the U.S. government sent emergency workers, supplies and billions of dollars to the territory, its Democrat-allied politicians still pointed a finger at the president … and the left-leaning media happily spread the “blame Trump” narrative.

As comparisons to George W. Bush and Hurricane Katrina grew, figures like San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz attacked Trump for allegedly mishandling the disaster response, despite the fact that emergency management experts praised the president and FEMA’s actions.

“What is really nasty is that anyone would turn their back on the Puerto Rican people,” Yulín Cruz declared at the time, even wearing a T-shirt labeled “NASTY” — where did she get it during a major storm? — as part of a petty jab at the U.S. president.

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The San Juan mayor and others made it clear that they held Trump responsible. “We are dying, and you (Trump) are killing us with the inefficiency and the bureaucracy,” she said during a television conference in early October.

Fast forward to this week. It turns out that sure enough, there was plenty of “inefficiency and bureaucracy” in Puerto Rico … but it looks like the island’s own liberal politicians were likely the ones behind it.

A Puerto Rican mayor and two additional island officials have now been charged with corruption, according to The Associated Press.

Although the alleged crimes go back before Hurricane Maria made landfall in the Caribbean, the arrests paint a dire picture of widespread corruption and misuse of government funds during the same general time frame as the disaster.

Do you think local corruption played a major role in the Puerto Rico disaster?

“The suspects are the mayor of the southwest town of Sabana Grande and the former directors of finance for the northern town of Toa Baja,” the AP reported.

“U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodriguez told reporters that the former officials from Toa Baja are accused of using nearly $5 million worth of federal funds to pay the town’s public employees and municipal contractors,” the newswire continued.

“Not only is that illegal, it’s immoral,” Rodriguez added.

Island officials are accused of taking millions of dollars that was granted by the United States for assistance programs and re-directing it wherever they saw fit, such as taking $2.5 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and using it to pay town employees.

At the center of the illegal scheme is Miguel Ortiz Vélez, who served as mayor. Ortiz Vélez belongs to the Popular Democratic Party, which is affiliated with the more well-known Democrat party in the mainland United States.

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Guess who else belongs to the same liberal PDP political group: Carmen Yulín Cruz, the person who was blaming Trump for hurricane deaths while her own party was defrauding taxpayers and laundering aid money. Is anyone surprised?

There may be more arrests to follow, as well. Government officials said that more corruption is suspected, and additional Puerto Rican officials are under scrutiny.

“Rodriguez said the investigation into alleged corruption in Toa Baja is ongoing because officials believe other people are involved,” the AP confirmed.

The hurricane that devastated Puerto Rico was certainly a tragedy, and many lessons about disaster preparedness can be learned from that incident.

However, it’s abundantly clear that widespread corruption and incompetence on the island was a major part of the chaos. That corruption doesn’t point to Donald Trump … it leads right to the same leftist Democrats who were trying to point fingers the entire time.

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Benjamin Arie is an independent journalist and writer. He has personally covered everything ranging from local crime to the U.S. president as a reporter in Michigan before focusing on national politics. Ben frequently travels to Latin America and has spent years living in Mexico.