|| Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that he is disappointed by Governor Togiola’s reaction to his statement before the Fono regarding federal funding to ASG.
“While I am pleased that Governor Togiola used his weekly radio address to apologize to the ASG employees whose hours he cut due to a ‘shortfall’ in revenues, I am disappointed by the Governor’s public reaction to the testimony I submitted to the Fono,” Faleomavaega said.
“As reported by Samoa News and as aired on KHJ radio, the Governor stated that I made ‘misleading, untrue and deceitful’ statements. Governor Togiola also implied that I have ‘tainted the reputation of government employees.’ I have done neither.”
“For the record, it should be noted that 15 years ago, ASG passed a law to allow the Delegate ‘to appear before the Legislature and give an address on Federal-territorial issues.’ In accordance with this law, I submitted a statement to the Fono, at the request of the Fono. As a courtesy, I also submitted my statement to the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, the Treasurer and Budget Director.”
“My statement is a matter of public record and has been since I testified before the Senate on February 1 and before the House on February 3, 2011. The statement is posted on my website at http://house.gov/faleomavaega/pdfs/Fonoreport_2_2_11.pdf, and KHJ radio and Samoa News also have copies of this testimony. The testimony stands on its own merit and anyone who reads it will know what the Governor has said about me is simply not true.”
“At no time have I accused any ASG employee of wrongdoing. In fact, in my testimony, I stood up for all ASG employees and clearly stated that I do not support a reduction of their working hours nor do I support any proposal that would burden our people by increasing their taxes.”
“When providing the Fono with an accounting of funds from the federal government to ASG from FY 2004-2009, I also did not, as the Governor put it, ‘include social security benefits and other benefits given to individuals in an effort to discredit him.’ In fact, I purposely separated out the amount of federal funding that went directly to ASG from the amount of funding that went directly to individuals. The chart and testimony I provided the Fono are clear on these points and I would invite the Governor to re-read my statement carefully so that he will have a better understanding of it.”
“Upon his review, the Governor will find that from FY 2004-2009 ASG received a total of nearly $1 billion from the federal government. In addition, the federal government made direct payments of about $500 million to individuals for social security, etc. If you add these two payments together, ASG and the people collectively received almost $1.5 billion.”
“This does not include 2010 funds, or the nearly $240 million more ASG is eligible to receive from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act coupled with the $24 million DOL National Emergency Grant and the nearly $156 million estimated from FEMA for tsunami clean-up.”
“Regarding any and all of these funds, I have never once accused any government official of ‘stealing’ these funds, and I simply do not know how the Governor came up with this idea. What I have said is that my job as a Member of Congress is to make sure that American Samoa receives its fair share of federal funds, and it is the Governor’s responsibility to administer and manage both local and federal funds.”
“The Governor, however, stated in his radio address that ‘the governor does not collect, keep, disburse or look after government revenues.’ If this is actually how the Governor thinks and feels, then there is little that can be done to change his reaction to my statement which the Fono requested regarding Federal-Territorial issues and especially on the matter of federal funds that are allocated for ASG.”
“Nevertheless, my door is always open and I remain committed to working with the Governor to resolve the problems now facing our Territory, although I continue to oppose increased taxes and a reduction of working hours for ASG employees,” Faleomavaega concluded.