Togiola made contribution to aid Samoa without consulting with Lolo

Former Governor Togiola Tulafono has clarified that he did not consult with then-Governor-elect Lolo before making the decision to donate $100,000 to the Samoan government for Cyclone Evan relief efforts.

Togiola made the donation on his last full day as governor, when he met with Samoa’s Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi.

According to Togiola, Lt. Governor-elect Lemanu was present when he presented the check to Tuilaepa. Togiola told Samoa News recently that he told Tuilaepa “to consider this our meaalofa to assist in the Samoa recovery on behalf of the good people of Samoa serving us here in American Samoa, and in honor of their presence for the inauguration of our new administration.”

The former governor said he did not see any press release issued concerning the gift, so he is unable to comment on whether the press release was accurate.

The press release quoted the governor as follows: “On behalf of Lieutenant Governor Faoa Sunia, I am very happy and quite proud to team up with new Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga and new Lieutenant Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga to present to Samoa Head of State - His Highness Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi, and Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, and the people of Samoa, a donation of $100,000 from the people and government of American Samoa to assist in the rebuilding of homes, lives and families that were badly affected by the devastation of the recent cyclone.”

Lolo Administration Senior Aide Iulogologo Joseph Pereira told KHJ News recently that Governor Lolo was concerned that the $100,000 came from an account that was allocated to other purposes.The $100,000 was taken from what Governor Togiola described as “leftover funds” that had been allocated to “District Projects” from the $20 million Retirement Fund loan.

Iu said some districts and villages have reportedly not yet received funds from the Retirement Fund loan account that were allocated to them.

Moreover, the Fono was expecting to receive Retirement Loan funds to pay for additional repairs and construction at the dilapidated Fono complex, but some of the expected funds have already been spent on other initiatives (such as the donation to Samoa and, reportedly, the 2012 Samoa Heritage Week in Hawaii) and there is not enough money to carry out the proposed work.

Treasurer Falema’o Pili reportedly said that the check for Samoa was issued on January 2nd, the same day that Togiola requested then Treasurer (and now Senator) Magalei Logovii to prepare the check.

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