SAN JUAN (Reuters) – The resignation of Puerto Rico’s governor after mass protests has sparked a succession battle, and the winner might be a Washington company lawyer in a roundabout way linked to his administration, which has been dogged by corruption scandals.
Law enforcement officials stand guard by a barricade on a road that results in La Fortaleza, the official residence of the Governor of Puerto Rico, and the place protests calling for the resignation of Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rossello occurred, in Previous San Juan, Puerto Rico July 26, 2019. REUTERS/Marco Bello
Governor Ricardo Rosselló mentioned on Wednesday he would step down on Aug. 2 within the face of public anger over the discharge of profane chat messages and embezzlement expenses towards two former administration officers.
According to the U.S. territory’s structure, Secretary of Justice Wanda Vázquez is subsequent in line to succeed Rosselló, based mostly on present Cupboard vacancies.
Protesters who pressured Rosselló from workplace have vowed to oppose Vázquez, saying she is just too near the disgraced governor.
That has prompted leaders of Rosselló’s pro-statehood occasion to look to a former Puerto Rico consultant within the U.S. Congress as a doable successor, based on 4 sources acquainted with the matter, who requested to not be named so they may focus on it.
Pedro Pierluisi, who represented the island in Washington from 2009 to 2017, has made it clear to occasion leaders he would settle for the job, based on certainly one of these folks.
Pierluisi, presently an lawyer with Washington regulation agency O’Neill & Borges, ran towards Rosselló within the gubernatorial election in 2016, dropping in a major.
A member of Rosselló’s New Progressive Occasion (PNP), Pierluisi might change into the commonwealth’s subsequent governor if he’s nominated and confirmed as secretary of state earlier than Rosselló resigns. That put up, presently vacant, is first in line to succeed the governor.
Additionally vying for the place is Puerto Rico Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz of the PNP, these folks mentioned.
EYES ON 2020
Foremost within the minds of occasion leaders is whether or not Rosselló’s successor can assist them retain the governorship when it comes up for grabs in November 2020.
Pierluisi, a former Puerto Rico secretary of justice, is favored by some Puerto Rico advocates in Washington for his familiarity with federal politics, based on one of many sources. One other of the sources mentioned Pierluisi has burdened to occasion leaders that he wouldn’t search re-election in 2020, to maintain the door open for Schatz, Puerto Rico’s present delegate to the U.S. Congress Jenniffer González, or one other candidate.
Schatz is seen by some within the occasion as too carefully linked to Rosselló to be a viable successor or 2020 candidate, the folks mentioned.
Puerto Ricans need a chief to steer them out of disaster and financial recession after Rosselló’s time period was marked by back-to-back 2017 hurricanes that killed round three,000 folks simply months after the U.S. territory filed for chapter.
Pierluisi had a observe report of gaining elevated federal funding for Puerto Rico’s three.2 million folks whereas serving in Congress.
He additionally confronted accusations in a 2016 New York Instances report of doable conflicts of curiosity between laws he launched and monetary consulting work by his spouse, allegations they each denied.
Pierluisi has been named by native media as a doable successor to Rosselló since his former secretary of state stepped down within the wake of the web chat scandal.
Within the chats, printed on July 13, Rosselló and 11 prime aides made offensive statements about feminine political opponents, homosexual pop singer Ricky Martin and strange Puerto Ricans.
Reporting by Nick Brown in San Juan; further reporting and writing by Andrew Hay; enhancing by Jonathan Oatis