Friday, January 8, 1999

Guam governor
begins second term
amid allegations
by opponent of fraud

By Susan Kreifels


Guam Gov. Carl Gutierrez was quietly sworn into his second term of office this week, while his political opponent still claimed that thousands of voters may have cast fraudulent ballots and legal challenges to the election remain undecided.

Lists of alleged illegal voters included an island judge, Guam's Washington representative, and dead people. The lists, when published, caused a "public uproar," according to Gutierrez spokeswoman Ginger Cruz. She accused political opponent Joe Ada of "perpetuating this rumor (of fraud) xxx to create the perception so they can get another election."

Ada's attorney, however, said a Gutierrez-appointed judge ruled that the lists be provided before they had been thoroughly researched. Attorney Curtis Van de veld said the Gutierrez side then made the preliminary list public to embarrass Ada and "create as much political furor as possible."

Each side accused the other of political maneuvering at its worst. That's not unusual on Guam, where politics seem to outweigh such a small Western Pacific island.

Last month Gutierrez appealed a federal district judge's order that he participate in a runoff election with Ada, the former two-term Guam governor. Ada filed a lawsuit alleging that blank ballots had not been counted in the close gubernatorial election and that Gutierrez, therefore, did not receive the majority required by Guam's Organic Act.

A federal appeals court in San Francisco granted Gutierrez's motion for a temporary restraining order to prevent the runoff election until his appeal is decided in March.

Ada also filed a lawsuit in Guam's Superior Court alleging election fraud that included illegal votes as well as precinct numbers and final tallies by the Guam Election Commission not matching.

That trial could start next week, attorneys for both sides said.

"Although there was no inauguration out of respect for the court process," Cruz said, "attorneys for the governor suggested the oath be administered to avoid any questions on their authority" in the interim.

Gutierrez's campaign attorney, Phil Carbullido, said Ada alleged about 2,700 people had voted illegally. But Ada's attorneys released, on court order, an initial list of 4,500 names and a second list with about 200 more, Carbullido said. Lists included prominent Guam residents.

"The best we could figure out was that they got a list of absentee voters and didn't cross check," Carbullido said.

Carbullido said the lists included 150 dead people who allegedly voted. "All with the exception of five, they did not vote," Carbullido said. "Four of those actually voted at home or in the hospital" before they died. One name could not be reconciled, Carbullido said.

Van de veld countered that a judge who recused herself from the Guam Superior Court trial still ordered that the preliminary lists be handed over to the Gutierrez defense, who then made them public. Van de veld protested the order, saying the lists had not been researched.

"Unfortunately I think that the politics of the issue have already entered their appearance in the Superior Court case," Van de veld said, adding that he didn't think Ada's lawsuit would get a fair trial.

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