A timeline of Big Money’s attempts to get rid of Carl Gutierrez and Joseph McDonald

The Guam Visitors Bureau board of directors – a body comprised mainly of the island’s top tourism, airline, and banking interests – believed former Gov. Carl Gutierrez was doing an excellent job as GVB president and CEO until the day he publicly accused some of them of corruption.

Now, those interests want him gone. And they also want to get rid of the legal counsel – former chief prosecutor Joseph McDonald – who compiled a report of his investigation validating Mr. Gutierrez’s claims.

The investigation report is scathing, and includes financial ledgers, board meeting minutes, incorporation documents, emails, and more to back up its allegations of a criminal conspiracy to defraud the government of Guam of millions of dollars in public tax dollars.

Just last week, the board made its latest attempt to silence and be rid of both Gutierrez and McDonald. Here is a non-exhaustive timeline of the major events that have led to this point:

March 2022: The accusations start

Mr. Gutierrez begins making public statements on talk radio, primarily on The Ray Gibson Show on 93.3 FM The Point, that suggest his knowledge of corruption among certain GVB board members

March 25, 2022: The gloves come off at a board meeting

Then-GVB chairman Milton Morinaga, who also was the head of hotel conglomerate PHR Ken Corp., raised Mr. Gutierrez’s public comments and began to admonish him, saying “It is evident that over the past few days there have been a number of unwarranted and unsubstantiated comments and accusations aimed at this board during the past few days.” Mr. Gutierrez shot back. Here are excerpts:

“I’ve witnessed blatant abuse of the Open Government law, the ethical violations that I see all the time. And I’m not just saying this because we have records and I have to take this out to the public that you cannot come in here as an airline owner or a hotel owner and vote on incentives that goes to this hotel or that airline and not recuse yourself?”

“You people meet in secret.. to determine the outcome of what’s going to go on a board meeting, and we have those information.”

“If you want to get rid of me and [GVB vice president] Gerry [Perez], you can make that motion and do it, but I’m not going to short my responsibility to allow the people of Guam’s millions of tax dollars to be dictated by people who have special interests.”

May 12, 2022: GVB board becomes inoperable

The board was so stunned by the public accusations, it voted to halt all future meetings. As a result,  no quorum could be achieved, no appropriations of Tourist Attraction Funds could be made, and the Guam Legislature had to step in to transfer powers temporarily to Gutierrez.

April 2022 through February 2023: Back room efforts to unseat Gutierrez

Board members and their corporate associates begin meeting with senators and Adelup officials in a campaign to depose Gutierrez. Advertisements by certain companies involved in the scandal also begin to increase on media platforms that, in tandem, report news stories lukewarm to the allegations of corruption, and in opposition to Gutierrez.

November 2022: New legislature elected

January 2023: Shelton elected to chair GVB oversight committee; Lujan becomes deputy

New legislature is seated. Sen. Amanda Shelton elected oversight chair of GVB. Sen. Jesse Lujan becomes vice chairman. Ms. Shelton is the niece of former board member and United Airlines Guam executive Sam Shinohara, who is a target of the report of investigation.

February 10, 2023: Shelton abruptly cancels oversight hearing Lujan called to probe GVB members on corruption allegations

Sen. Lujan attempts to begin an oversight hearing of GVB that he called while Sen. Shelton was off island. Ms. Shelton returned to the island that morning and canceled the oversight hearing abruptly. The hearing was to expose the results of the investigation and to probe board members about the allegations of corruption.

February 24, 2023: GVB membership elects new board members

March 23, 2023: New board makes first public ouster attempt

Board members, without any notice, push for a snap performance evaluation of both Gutierrez and McDonald, despite the absence of any form or process. This prompts the majority of GVB staff to sign a petition opposing the board move, and several employees to speak with Kandit on condition of anonymity about retaliatory efforts by some board members. The performance evaluations, according to the employees, would be the board’s cover for ousting Gutierrez and McDonald and making it look like it was for cause.

April 6, 2023: Corruption investigation report released, sent to AG and Public Auditor

A scathing report making major allegations of corruption against current and former board members and vendors of GVB is publicly released and referred for criminal findings to the Office of the Attorney General of Guam, and for audit by the Office of Public Accountability.

April 27, 2023: New board makes second public ouster attempt

At its latest meeting, the board dumped its performance evaluation ruse altogether and instead voted to open both Gutierrez’s position, and a new legal counsel contract period for hiring, essentially pushing both Gutierrez and McDonald out. The vote was declared void the following day, when Attorney General Douglas Moylan released a legal opinion concerning the membership of Monte Mesa on the board. Mr. Mesa made the motion to begin a search process.

April 28, 2023: Board meeting minutes of March 8 meeting, where members Sonny Ada and Mary Rhodes are overheard on recording of meeting discussing desire to fire legal counsel

According to the minutes of the March 8, 2023, which were compiled from the audio recording, board members Sonny Ada and Mary Rhodes had a conversation about ousting legal counsel, Mr. McDonald.

“Director Ada stated that he thinks the Board should get its own legal counsel.”

“Director Rhodes expressed the need to fire legal counsel.”

“Director Ada said that it cannot be addressed because it is not on the agenda.”

The corruption investigation report is under review by the OAG. According to Mr. Gutierrez’s public statements made on The Ray Gibson Show, Public Auditor Benjamin Cruz also will be conducting a thorough review of the matter.

The report alleges the illegal and unethical misuse and misappropriation of public funds to the benefit of certain board members and associates to the tune of tens of millions of dollars.


  • Alan San Nicolas

      05/03/2023 at 5:55 AM

    Basta man achaka put I achaki. Gaigi I kotte na man nananga. Tai sustansia I pichipichi (fabila di chispas). HAFA ADAI AFAÑELOS

  • CSBarretto

      05/08/2023 at 6:54 AM

    Wow. Need to continue the investigation. This will help determine how effective our tourism dollars are working for all our businesses.

  • Wow. Need to continue the investigation. This will help determine how effective our tourism dollars are working for all our businesses.

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