Puerto Rico Fiscal Board Fights For Secrecy

Puerto Rico’s federally appointed Fiscal Board refused to deliver an unspecified number of communications between the entity and officials of Congress, the White House, Treasury and other federal agencies. As part of an access to information lawsuit brought by the Center of Investigative Journalism (CPI) a year and a half ago, the Board alleges that they are privileged documents and must remain confidential. In a two-page letter dated Nov. 21 and addressed to the CPI’s legal representation, Board lawyers, Proskauer Rose, argue that the disclosure of certain emails and related attachments would affect the island’s economy, capital markets, pending law enforcement investigations and “the ability to perform [the Board’s] statutory duties.”

The entity imposed by the U.S. government through a federal law known as PROMESA only mentions broad justifications and descriptions for the withheld documents, the amount of which remains unknown, as are the names of those who are part of the communications that remain outside the public domain. The CPI lawsuit against the entity aims to obtain access to communications between the seven-member fiscal panel and both federal and local government.

Emails Expose Federal Gov’t Influence Over Puerto Rico’s Fiscal Board

“Started engaging with the creditors yet?,” asked Ted McCann, then adviser to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), in a March 21, 2017, email sent to Carlos García, a member of Puerto Rico’s federally appointed Fiscal Control Board. Shortly after, García, a former president of the commonwealth’s Government Development Bank (GDB) and whose appointment to the board was pushed through Ryan’s office, replied:

“Yes, a lot of focus on GO/Cofina controversy. Each group stepping up their rhetoric. Board pressing on for meaningful progress. Challenge is the limited projected Primary surplus available in the first 10 years for debt service.