Save & Sandra ask for review of election statute
A letter has been sent to Soliai T. Fuimaono Chief Election Officer, dated April 4, by gubernatorial candidates Save Liuato A. Tuitele and Tofoitaufa Sandra King Young (Save & Sandra), requesting the Election Office to review a provision of the local election laws governing the resignation of government employees when running for the public offices of governor and lieutenant governor.
Chief Election Officer Soliai told Samoa News on Thursday, his office received the April 4 letter, early Thursday morning, and it has been given to the Election Office’s lawyers for legal review. He said that the Election Office would release an official statement this week or when the legal review is completed.
No names were mentioned in the letter.
In their letter, ‘Save & Sandra’ write, “It has come to our attention that several candidates, whom are current employees of the American Samoa Government (ASG) and are running for the offices of Governor and Lieutenant Governor, are actively engaged in activities intending to influence or obtain votes from qualified electors without having resigned their positions from the government.
“We believe these candidates have engaged, directly or indirectly through their supporters, in posting campaign public signs, issuing bumper stickers, and also participating in campaign fund raisings and other activities to solicit votes from the electorate.”
They point to the American Samoa Code Annotated 4.0102 (f) as prohibiting such activities.
The statute is as follows:
(f) Candidates for the offices of Governor and Lieutenant Governor who are employees of the government in whatever capacity and for either the executive, or judicial branches must resign their position with the government before commencing active campaigning. “Active campaigning” includes but is not limited to: the acceptance of a petition from the election official charged with that responsibility; any effort whatsoever that is designed to influence or obtain votes from qualified electors; and any activity that would cause a conflict of interest at the candidate’s position of employment with the government. In any event, candidate must resign no later that 60 days prior to the election date even if the events above have not occurred.
In their letter, the gubernatorial team of Save & Sandra asks that the Election Officer review the stated provision of local election laws, and “determine if these candidates should resign from their current positions with ASG or be disqualified from running for the offices of Governor and/or Lieutenant Governor.”
The candidates say they “look forward to hearing from your office. We have shared copies of this letter with the Attorney General’s Office, the Director of the Department of Human Resources and with the Office of the Governor of American Samoa.”
There are five gubernatorial teams running in the 2012 General Election season, of which three have candidates currently employed by the local government.
They are cabinet members of the current administration, Taufete'e John Faumuina, Director of the Criminal Justice Planning Agency running for Lt. Governor with Lt. Gov. Faoa Aitofele Sunia who is running for governor; Development Bank of American Samoa President Lolo Moliga, running for governor with Senator Lemanu Peleti Mauga; and, Director of Administrative Services Le'i Sonny Thompson, running with candidate for governor, Afoa Moega Lutu.