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Ref Bureau expense report shows more Fono travel

The Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB) at the Fono spent $356,709.94 between October 2012 and February 2013. And like the other divisions of the Legislature including the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the Legislative Finance Office, a copy of the Fono’s expense report obtained by the Samoa News reveals that the LRB also has its own set of “questionable costs” — mostly travel expenses.


Travel expenses were, as in the previously reported expense reports of the Legislature, listed under categories not directly related to travel, although the good news is that the category of “Food For Human Consumption” had only had one payment under this category, made out on Dec. 4 to Semu Leota for $1,680. Other Legislature reports used this category for travel expenses and thousands of dollars worth of payments to Fono staffers and local companies.


However, travel expenses continue to show up under categories, other than “Off-Island Travel”, a now seemingly typical accounting method for Fono expense reporting.


For example, under “Other Miscellaneous Expenditures,” there is a payment of $4,950 made out to Insel Fehmarn on December 4, 2012. (Insel Fehmarn is a hotel in Apia, Samoa). The report does not specify who authorized the payment, what the money was for, or who and how many people stayed at the hotel, and for how long.


While, under “Other Employee Benefits”, where names of employees and their bi-weekly salaries are generally noted, there are two payments on Feb. 5 totaling $2,280 for per diem in Honolulu and Los Angeles for legal counsel Nathaniel Savali, the attorney for the House of Representatives. In addition, the LRB also made a payment of 2,254.34 to Mabuhay Travel for Savali’s airfare on Feb. 19. This was 5 days after he received a payment of $2,510


Under the same category, two separate payments were made out to  Kruse III, Joha on Feb. 13 in the amount of $1,200 for “computer service” and another payment of $1,200 on Feb. 21 for “Other Employee Benefits.” (It’s unknown if Kruse III is an employee of the Fono, as no FICA- MEDICARE and ASG taxes can be tracked to him or her.)


The only questionable payments that are noted under the “Repair and Maintenance” category include two payments totaling $1,156 on Dec. 3 for Deanna Fuimaono for per diem in Honolulu and Las Vegas, with a separate payment of $2,248.40 paid out on Dec. 17 to Mabuhay Travel for her airfare.


Mabuhay Travel — obviously the chosen travel agency for the Fono with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of travel paid to it — also received a $2,000 payment on Feb. 28 for “Repair and Maintenance Supplies”.


For “Off-Island Travel,” less than ten payments were made out between Oct. 26 and Dec. 17 by the LRB. The payments include $1,817 total for land transportation and per diem in Honolulu for Leleiga Savali on Oct. 26, another payment of $1,457.76 for her airfare on Nov. 15 paid to Worldwide Tours, and airfare for her again in the same amount of $1,457.76 paid out to Mabuhay Travel on Nov. 21.


Collins Travel received a payment of $1,565.40 on Nov. 28 for airfare of an individual whose name starts with “Mar.” Lastly, Manny Lagafuaina received two payments totaling  $1,593 on Dec. 3. Two weeks later on Dec. 17, the LRB paid out $1,565.40 to Collins Travel for Lagafuaina’s airfare.