Gabbard, AOC join lawmakers to call on Puerto Rican governor to resign over corruption scandal
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló faces calls to resign after private chats leaked, revealing the men mocking women and victims of Hurricane Maria. Just the FAQs, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, has joined a growing chorus of lawmakers including Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., and Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., in calling for the resignation of Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló over a corruption scandal involving leaked text messages between the governor and top aides.
In a Twitter video sent from San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Friday, Gabbard called "on all Democrats running for President to come here to Puerto Rico and show support for our fellow Americans" against corruption, and called for Rosselló's resignation. Gabbard said she would be joining in the protests on the island.
The territory, whose residents are U.S. citizens, has been rocked by protests after nearly 900 pages of private chats between the 40-year-old governor and members of his administration leaked, revealing the men mocking women, disabled people, and victims of Hurricane Maria.
The scandal, informally known as "Chatgate," came to light a day after Rosselló’s former secretary of education and five other people were arrested on charges of steering federal money to unqualified, politically connected contractors.
Since then, U.S. lawmakers have called for the governor to resign. Ocasio-Cortez, whose family is from Puerto Rico, tweeted on Friday calling for Rosselló’s resignation.
"The people of Puerto Rico have spoken loudly and clearly for the world to hear," she wrote.
Scott called on Rosselló to resign on Friday, writing "the island deserves new leadership." He joined the call of Rep. Jenniffer Gonzlez, Puerto Rico's nonvoting member of Congress. Scott represents Florida, which has a large population of Puerto Ricans who migrated there after Hurricane Maria.
Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro was the first Democratic presidential candidate to call for Rosselló to step down, telling BuzzFeed News on Friday morning, "The way they’ve treated the people of Puerto Rico, the administration has treated the people of Puerto Rico, I believe that he should resign."
The protests on the island have tapped into long-simmering resentment about the slow pace of reconstruction efforts after hurricanes devastated Puerto Rico in 2017. Out of some 10,000 schools, bridges and other damaged sites dotting the island, funding for only nine have gotten the green light from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as of July 17. A government watchdog says a dispute between FEMA and local officials over cost estimates has slowed the reconstruction process.
Contributing: Adrianna Rodriguez, Ledyard King