As required by the Guam Government’s Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Act, Tourism Guam Tourism Leaders must disclose financial conflicts.
Senator Telo Taitague introduced the request as an amendment to the budget law, pointing to allegations made earlier this year that current and former board members failed to disclose their ties to government funding provided through the GVB. Organizational Relationships for Funding.
The budget bill, which passed party lines 9-6, is now being reviewed by the governor.
“We need to provide financial data. Other board members and committees also need to provide financial data. Directors of various agencies also need to provide financial data. This is an agency that oversees $23 million under the budget,” Taitag, a board member, told her colleagues, do not need to submit a disclosure form.
GVB members are required to disclose any real or potential conflicts of interest in any organization in which they participate or advise and in any organization they or a family member owns.
Reporting requirements for board members are less stringent than for elected officials or heads of government agencies, who must detail all their assets and liabilities, as well as all sources of income for themselves and their spouses.
Taitag said the “hoax” involving GVB board members would continue to be unraveled as the investigation progressed and she believed more could come to light.
GVB management expressed support for the measure in testimony submitted on other legislation introduced by Taitag. GVB’s board has yet to issue a formal opinion, but Jeff Jones, a GVB board member and president and CEO of Triple J Group, said he would resign if required to report his financial interests.
“If someone … wants to be on the board but is afraid to disclose their financial situation, … they must be hiding something. I don’t want that person on the board because of the taxes I pay. I work hard. I Paying the government. I want to make sure that the money is being used properly,” Taitag said.
Sen. Jesse Lujan, vice chair of the tourism committee, supported the amendment, noting that the attorney general is investigating allegations of misconduct by board members.
Businesses lobbied for an exemption from the requirement when the GVB was formed, he said.
“Why is this happening? Why is this happening? … Why should some board and committee members be exempt from filing financial disclosures? Government funding? Yeah, we’ve heard some people say, ‘Oh, you know, yeah, if We have to give in and we won’t be part of it.”
The amendment passed in an 8-7 tie, with travel chairwoman Sen. Amanda Shelton opposing.
Shelton was criticized by Taitague for alleged conflicts of interest with former GVB board member Sam Shinohara. GVB travel documents filed with the legislature show that Lujan and Taitague accompanied GVB leadership on paid trips to Japan. Lujan, a former gubernatorial campaign co-chair of current GVB President Carl Gutierrez, brought charges against certain GVB board members.