The governor, Pedro Pierluisi, expressed himself today, Friday, “hurt” with the criminal process faced by his friend and collaborator, Joseph “Joey” Fuentes, for having hidden the origin of the money that entered the super PAC, Save Puerto Rico, to campaign politically that benefited Pierluisi in the 2020 election year.
“I repudiate any violation of the law, but this has hurt me, on a personal level, because, at the end of the day, there is friendship and I know his wife and children,” Pierluisi said to questions from the press, who approached him at a public activity at the Convention Center.
Fuentes pleaded guilty yesterday, Thursday, to hide, conceal or mislead about the origin of $495,000 in donations received by the super PAC, Save Puerto Rico, which he established before the United States Federal Election Commission (FEC, for its acronym in English) in May 2020.
Pierluisi confirmed that he and Fuentes have known each other since they were 19 and 18 years old, respectively, because they met when they were in college. “Since then, we have had a friendship, which I do not deny. On the contrary, I have admitted (her) at all times, ”he replied. “He has always supported me. She always contributed financially to my campaigns. When this PAC was created, he said it in the media and I said it to the media”, he maintained.
The governor denied that there was any coordination with his campaign committee or any other commission of crimes. He insisted that the other people mentioned in the indictment as Individual-1, Individual-2 and Individual-3 are not charged with any crime.
The criminal complaint against the super PAC and Fuentes Fernández explicitly states that there were communications with two other individuals, who “discussed (among themselves) aspects of their scheme to avoid reporting the true source of the donations.” This action is in violation of electoral and criminal laws created to provide greater transparency about the influence of money in electoral politics.
The communications intercepted by the feds occurred through text messages and emails, which Fuentes Fernández exchanged directly with an “associate” of Governor Pierluisi and “an important fundraiser for his 2020 electoral campaign.” [Individuo-1]as well as with the secretary of the non-profit organizations, Foundation for Progress and Foundation for Equality [Individuo-2]according to the information in the bank accounts.
Individual-2 was responsible for transferring up to $495,000 in funds from the shell entities to Salvemos a Puerto Rico between June 25 and November 16, 2020. This person is described as the secretary of the Foundation for Progress and Fundación por la Igualdad, based on information in business bank accounts.
Meanwhile, a third individual is mentioned in the accusation, since he was instructed by the corporate secretary on how he could donate without his name appearing publicly.
Addressed about the participation of these individuals in the scheme, the federal prosecutor for the district of Puerto Rico, Stephen Muldrow, limited himself to saying that Fuentes is the only person prosecuted and charged with a crime for having made false statements before the FEC, when he had the legal responsibility to provide truthful information about donors.
Pierluisi alleged that he did not know the identity of the individuals, close to him, who maintained direct communication with Fuentes Fernández and collaborated with him in the creation of ghost entities to hide the real donors. “I have hundreds of relatives. Collectors too,” he said.
Immediately, he added that he is unconcerned about the mentions made of these people. “If you read the statement carefully, you will see that both the statement and the guilty plea, in neither of them is an illegal act or crime imputed to any of the people mentioned there. The crime that was committed has been prosecuted,” he commented.
“Here if something is being seen, it is the one who does the paying. The federal and state authorities have a common front and no one is above the law”, she pointed out.