San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz first came to the world’s attention when she turned the federal response to Hurricane Maria into a partisan hit job on President Trump.
Making it seem as if Trump wasn’t doing enough, if anything, about the strikingly horrid situation in Puerto Rico, Cruz would appear on national television wearing shirts that read “help us, we are dying,” while denying requests to show up to FEMA camps to help organize cleanup and assistance operations, and refusing to distribute federally delivered supplies because Trump wasn’t giving her enough trucks to distribute it.
Distribution of the supplies was not a federal responsibility, but that wasn’t the narrative Cruz wanted the public to know about.
While Cruz was performing for the cameras with these overdramatic attempts at making Trump look bad, in the neighboring city of Guaynabo, Mayor Angel Perez Otero noted that the federal response was superb and that while other Puerto Rican mayors were coming together to organize with FEMA, Cruz was acting for the cameras somewhere else.
In short, Cruz was making her people suffer so that she could try to paint Trump and his administration as inept.
The feud was put on hold for a while, but a recent investigation into the corruption of the mayor’s office has reignited things. On Tuesday, some 2o FBI agents raided the mayor’s office in an attempt to search for incriminating documents that point toward the mayor’s office showing favoritism toward a private business that donated money to Cruz’s campaign.
Decenas de agentes del FBI ocupan el 15to piso de la Torre Municipal. Asi llegaron esta mañana los federales. pic.twitter.com/z3h1CObwLp
— Luis Guardiola (@GuardiolaTwitt) October 16, 2018
According to USA Today, the investigation comes after an anonymous tip pointed to the mayor’s office being involved in corruption with a construction company.
The fraud investigation was sparked by an anonymous tip to the comptroller’s office of favoritism in how the mayor’s office rewarded contracts, according to El Nuevo Día,
The allegation was centered on a $4.7 million contract awarded to construction company BR Solutions. The company is owned by businessman Leonel Pereira O’Neill, who has made political donations to a number of Puerto Rican politicians, including Cruz, El Nuevo Día reported.
The FBI has not identified any suspects in the case, but Leff told reporters that a conviction for the type of fraud alleged would likely carry a maximum sentence of five years.
Special agent in charge Douglas Leff would not tell the media whether Cruz was implicated in the charge or not, but did say that the bureau is “going to follow the investigation where it leads us.”
This isn’t the first mention of Cruz being on the FBI’s radar. According to Fox News, Cruz’s office reportedly punished the mayor’s former director of procurement Yadira Molina after she blew the whistle on city officials for giving a preferred company business, complicating the delivery of supplies for victims of Hurricane Maria and giving three times the normal amount of payment for services.
Earlier this year, local news outlets reported Cruz’s administration was being investigated for allegedly obstructing critical supplies from reaching victims of Hurricane Maria- a category-4 storm that leveled much of the tiny U.S. territory more than a year ago.
The FBI reportedly launched the investigation following a February lawsuit filed by Yadira Molina, the former director of procurement. Molina claims she was retaliated against for reporting “alleged irregular acts” to the local comptroller.
The report says Molina claims she was punished for reporting on the allegedly rigged system and that she was blocked from her right “to report wrongdoing in her capacity as a private citizen, not as a public employee.”
Shortly after Cruz became mayor, Molina claims a supply company was granted “preferred supplier” status which paid them more than three times what regular suppliers made. She also alleges that other city officials engaged in a corrupt scheme to steer business the preferred supplier’s way.