Puerto Rico: House legislator resigns in disgrace

By Natalia A. Bonilla-Berrios
LatinaLista

PUERTO RICO – Representative Ivan Rodriguez Traverzo resigned Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010 after being the subject of expulsion by the Puerto Rican House of Representatives.

His decision came on judgment day — his legislative judgment day. The House was already in session at 1 p.m. to settle the future of the less than two-year-old legislative career of Traverzo. The House Ethics Committee released a report this week unanimously recommending the expulsion of the New Progressive Party (NPP) legislator.

He was being investigated on two counts of bribery and eight violations of the Ethics Code.

traverzo official photo.jpg
Former Representative Ivan Rodriguez Traverzo

“Today is a dark day for the House of Representatives who was planning on discussing the behavior of one of our members which clearly does not reflect the conduct of this entity,” said House Speaker Jenniffer Gonzalez.

The lawmaker for the 16th District asked for an injunction before the final decision so he could defend himself against the allegations but Judge Giselle Romero-Garcia determined his proposal was premature and passed the resolution to the House.

The charges
Traverzo, who was also the chairman of the Tourism Committee, requested a donation of $400,000 during an official trip to the International Tourism Fair held from January 28 to February 1. While there, the lawmaker barely attended the conference or met the clients.

According to a conversation made public between Traverzo and one of the people he is accused of bribing, businessman Enrique Cruz, the lawmaker asked for money because “I have five kids and I’m in a weak economic situation.”

The report also states that the legislator demanded that Cruz buy ten tickets costing $500 each to attend his birthday party. Cruz refused.

 

 

 

In retaliation, Traverzo interfered with Cruz’s non-profit organization contract and suggested to a radio media outlet that Cruz was corrupt.

According to the report, “because there was no evidence to rebut the testimony presented, the Commission gives complete credibility to the evidence gathered which is considered clear, strong and convincing proof of the Representative’s bribery.”

The House will recognize Traverzo’s resignation after 15 calendar days. Had the lawmaker not resigned, he would have been the fourth legislator in the Island’s history to have been expelled from the House.

The most recent expulsion was during the 1990′s when former NPP Senator Nicolas Nogueras was accused of tax evasion and defrauding the United States Internal Revenue Service.

 

 

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Learn more about Natalia

 

 

 

Natalia A. Bonilla Berrios is a junior at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) majoring in Journalism and minoring in Political Science, International Relations. Natalia has a 3.90 GPA.

She was the former president of the UPR student chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, a member of the National Society of Collegiates and Scholars and was selected for the ‘Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges’ program, during her freshman year.

In addition, she has worked as an intern reporter for Diálogo Digital, Puerto Rican Center of Investigative Journalism, served as a staff writer for Paréntesis newspaper, and as a volunteer reporter for IDentidad magazine.

Bonilla has served as student representative for the Freedom of the Press Center of Puerto Rico and has been selected as one of the UWIRE’s Top 100 Student Journalists of 2009.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She was selected for the Student Camp at Unity 2008, the quadrennial Journalists of Color Convention and also, as a volunteer for the 2009 International Year of Astronomy.

 

 

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