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  • The new secretary of state was the island’s resident commissioner in the U.S. Congress from 2009 to 2017.

    The new secretary of state was the island’s resident commissioner in the U.S. Congress from 2009 to 2017. | Photo: EFE

Published 30 July 2019

A 2016 investigation from the New York Times, showed that as Puerto Rico’s Pedro Pierluisi saw his family wealth grow immensely during his time as the island's representative in Washington. 

Puerto Rico’s outgoing Governor Ricardo Rossello has named Pedro Pierluisi, as his new secretary of state, filling a void and placing him next in line to succeed the governor when he steps down on Friday, El Nuevo Dia newspaper reported Tuesday.

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The representative to Rossello’s New Progressive Party (PNP), Jose Melendez confirmed the designation, affirming that the majority of lawmakers were notified by the president of the House of Representatives, Carlos Mendez. The selection now has to be confirmed by the House and the Senate.

According to the island’s constitution, former Secretary of State Luis Rivera Marin would have been next in line as governor. However, Rivera was one of many officials who resigned in recent weeks due to Puerto Rico’s political turmoil. 

With no Secretary of State, the Secretary of Justice, Wanda Vazquez was third in the line of succession to hold office. Although, Vazquez said she didn’t want the job creating a week-long an uncertainty that has come to an end with Pierluisi’s designation. 

The new secretary of state was the island’s resident commissioner in the U.S. Congress from 2009 to 2017. He is a member of the Democratic Party, former president of Rossello’s New Progressive Party and in 1993 was secretary of justice to Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Rossello’s, Ricardo's father.

In 2015, Pierluisi ran for governor but lost in the primaries of the PNP to Ricardo Rossello. 

On Tuesday Pierluisi took a leave of absence from Washington law firm O’Neill & Borges, where he works as a corporate and government affairs lawyer, according to his profile page on the company’s website.

Yet controversy follows Pierluisi as well. 

A 2016 investigation from the New York Times, showed that as Puerto Rico’s representative in Washington Pierluisi saw his family wealth grow immensely. 

His wife, Maria Elena Carrion, just 20 days after his election, set up a financial advisory firm that was hired by large Wall Street companies. Carrion’s clients sought to capitalize on Pierluisi’s bills that were related to the island’s financial crisis in regards with a possible federal default.

The New York Times article shows that the bills introduced by Pierluisi would have benefited at least two of the companies that hired his wife for financial advice.

The on-going political crisis in Puerto Rico is the result of an 889-page document, released by the non-profit journalism group Center for Investigative Journalism which revealed that Rossello led a racist, misogynist smear campaign against his competitors and journalists. As well as allegations of corruption and mishandling of public funds in his administration. 

After 12 days of consecutive protests, where thousands of Puerto Ricans took to the street, Rossello announced his resignation despite his hesitancy to do so a few days before.

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