When the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico was walloped by back-to-back hurricanes in 2017, President Donald Trump quickly dispatched much-needed supplies and personnel for rescue and recovery efforts on the utterly devastated island.
Despite the rapid deployment of vital resources — some of which had even been pre-staged in anticipation of the second storm, Hurricane Maria — Trump was harshly criticized by congressional Democrats, the liberal media and many local elected officials in Democrat-dominated Puerto Rico.
Chief among Trump’s critics with regard to the recovery efforts in Puerto Rico was San Juan Mayor Carmen Yelin Cruz, who repeatedly appeared on U.S. media to cast blame for virtually every failure on Trump and his administration.
Trump and his administration had accurately responded to those and other critiques by noting that the majority of the failures of the recovery effort were due to such pre-existent issues as Puerto Rico’s horrible lack of infrastructure, culture of government favoritism and rampant corruption and inefficiency among the island’s political leaders.
Trump may very well have been referring to Cruz — among others — when he called out the rampant corruption in Puerto Rico, as Cruz’s office — again, among others — was just raided by the FBI as part of an investigation into allegations of government corruption.
The allegations, which originated with a whistleblower inside Cruz’s administration, alleged that Cruz and her people had purposefully obstructed the disbursement of critical supplies in the aftermath of the devastating and deadly hurricane, largely due to the fact that Cruz’s administration had worked out “preferred supplier” deals with favored vendors that paid them three times more than other vendors and steered the bulk of the distribution their way.
Those allegations were revealed in a lawsuit filed in February by Cruz’s former director of procurement, Yadira Molina, who claimed to have faced retaliation from Cruz’s administration when she blew the whistle on the “irregular acts” to the local comptroller.
Fox News reported that Molina was not alone in criticizing the apparent corruption of Mayor Cruz, as plenty of local residents had little nice to say about her as well, instead suggesting that she’d placed her political ambitions above their own dire needs. A prime example of such was Cruz’s constant media appearances and hiring of extra photographers to follow her around rather than ensure residents had the food, water and shelter necessary for their survival in the aftermath of the storm.
“She comes out, goes on television and pats herself on the back,” explained San Juan small business owner Simon Menedez. “It stopped being about us a long time ago.”
Fox attempted to reach out to Cruz multiple times for comment, but was unsuccessful. An effort to verify the reports of FBI raids in San Juan with the FBI received only the standard response: The office “neither confirms nor denies the existence” of the reported investigation.
However, New England Cable News cited reports from local media outlets in Puerto Rico that had reported on the raids on the Torre Municipal de San Juan building and received a statement from an FBI spokesman.
“We are seeking documents and evidence that support this allegation,” FBI spokesman Carlos Osorio said according to that report, referencing the allegations of corrupt favoritism for certain suppliers and vendors.
“This search will help us confirm if allegations are true or not. We will look through every document, bill, email … anything that will let us clarify the claims,” Osorio added.
Osorio also revealed that the raid had required agents to fan out and occupy multiple floors of the building during the search — local media noted it was the 14th and 15th floors of the building — and that this was the first time ever that the FBI had raided the building.
In response to the raid, Cruz stated via Twitter that she had instructed her staff to engage in “total collaboration” with the FBI, and added, “If someone has done something wrong, they should be subjected to due process and face the consequences of their actions.”
One can only wonder if that would apply to herself, should the allegations of corruption be proven true, or if the blame will be hoisted on some unlucky underling who is designated to take the fall for any illegal behavior.
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