By Natalia A. Bonilla-Berrios
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.
“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.
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.
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.”