Three Campaign Spending Commission members confirmed
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The Senate last Friday confirmed three of the four members of the Campaign Spending Commission and the confirmation comes just in time for the upcoming Nov. 6th mid term election. All three who are now confirmed each received unanimous votes of 14-0.
Under local statute, the five-member commission is appointed by the governor, subject to Senate confirmation only. Terms are for 4 years and members may be reappointed and they serve without compensation.
The newly confirmed commission members are Sialega Tuiga, who is a staff member of the Governor’s Office as well as the Governor’s Liaison to the Senate; Kara Lutali, a long time senior staffer at the ASG Office of Program Planning and Budget; and Finauvale Alex Zodiacal, who has been with the Commerce Department for many years and in the past served as commission chairman.
The fourth member nominated by the governor, is Levi Reese, who was attending a family funeral last Friday morning and therefore was unable to attend the Senate confirmation hearing, which lasted less than 15 minutes.
The first round of questions came from Sen. Fa’amausili Mau Mau Jr., to Finauvale who said he is the longest serving member of the commission. As to the required filing of campaign spending reports by candidates seeking public office, Fainauvale explained that there were times when some did not file.
Local law stipulates that winning candidates cannot take the oath of office until all required reports — including campaign spending reports are filed. For the Congressional race, which is a federal post, the report is filed with the Federal Election Commission.
During the hearing, Sen. Fonoti Tafa’ifa Aufata, the Tualauta senator, noted that commission members all work for ASG and she questioned the amount of time the members spend at their ASG job, for which they are paid, and the time spent as a commission member.
Finauvale explained that spending reports are submitted to the Election Office, which then calls for the commission to conduct their review, and this work is either carried out during office hours or after hours.
At least three times during the hearing, it was mentioned that the commissioners are not compensated and that is clearly stated in the local statute.
The effective date for each member to serve on the commission is Sept. 4, 2018 until Sept. 3, 2022, according to the governor’s nomination letter sent to Senate President Gaoteote Tofau Palaie.
It was unclear at this point as to when the Senate will hold a confirmation hearing for Reese. While the law stipulates five commission members, Samoa News wasn’t able to immediately confirm whether the governor will appoint a 5th member before the current session ends in about two weeks.
Campaign spending forms are available at the Election Office. Samoa News notes that local law provides details of when reports are filed, and other requirements of the candidates pertaining to contribution and expenditures. American Samoa Bar Association online: www.asbar.org under A.S.CA 6.1702 — provides details.
PROPOSED NEW LAW: PUBLIC AND PRIVATE NUISANCE
Sen. Magalei Logovi’i is the sponsor of a proposed law which regulates public and private nuisance, and if enacted, provides a new section to the local statute, which currently covers only public and private peace disturbance — a misdemeanor crime that has been on the rise with many new cases filed in District Court every week.
According to the bill’s preamble, the territory’s population is rapidly increasing and with the increase, come issues generally associated with — “limited space, increased noise, increased garbage and increased smells.”
“American Samoa citizenry should be mandated to follow specific laws and regulations to control occurrences of peace disturbance from amplifying loud music, noises, etc. causing distraction and invasion of privacy and community welfare of their surroundings,” the preamble states.
The bill defines “public nuisance” as anything that:
• is injurious to heath, or is indecent, or offensive to the senses or an obstruction of the free use of property; and
• interferes with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property by an entire community or neighborhood or by any considerable number of persons, or unlawfully obstructs the free passage or use, in the customary manner, of any river, bay, stream, lagoon, basin, or any public park, square, street, or highway or any use of a traditional village grounds.
According to the bill, a person who “maintains or commits” public nuisance is guilty of a class B misdemeanor.
Of interest in the bill, is that every person who maintains, permits or allows a public nuisance to exist upon his or her property or premises, and every person occupying or leasing the property or premises of another, who permits or allows a public nuisance to exist is also guilty of a class B misdemeanor.
For private nuisance, it’s defined in the bill as an interference with a landowner’s right or those in rightful possession of land, to enjoy and use his land. Violators of this provision are guilty of class B misdemeanor.