Speaker Therese Terlaje, undoubtedly one of Guam’s most popular elected officials, has not picked up a packet to run for reelection to the legislature, according to the latest documents out of the Guam Election Commission. Speculation has grown that the attorney by profession is considering running for attorney general.
Ms. Terlaje said she will be announcing her intentions in the coming days. The deadline for candidates to submit completed packets, including petitions, is June 28 at 5 p.m.
The speaker, who earned more votes than any other candidate in the last general election, has maintained her popularity despite (and some would say because of) controversial legislation she has introduced, and positions she has taken. For example, Ms. Terlaje is the author of landmark legislation to reform the decades-old Medical Malpractice Mandatory Arbitration Act. The MMMAA is the statute that has prevented ordinary citizens from holding doctors accountable for malpractice that has left family members mutilated and dead.
She also has been one of only three democrat senators who have openly defied democrat Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero on a host of issues. She has called out the governor and her administration on the spending of federal pandemic funds, doggedly questioned where appropriated monies for Guam Memorial Hospital have been spent, and called for greater transparency amid growing concerns of corruption in law enforcement.
The speaker also has been a long-time advocate for residents’s land rights, and the return of property the local and federal governments hold to pre-condemnation land owners. Following Ms. Leon Guerrero’s push for the use of hundreds of acres of Fadian properties for a new medical complex, Ms. Terlaje was the only senator to question the taking of the land and the cost of the proposal. In fact, she led an oversight hearing that drew the public’s attention to the plight of the land owners and questioned why the administration was not considering land already designated for a hospital at Oka, Tamuning.
An exodus of prosecutors at the Office of the Attorney General under Leevin Camacho has led to a larger backlog of criminal cases and more plea deals that have favored criminals, according to multiple sources of information. Indeed, according to records Kandit has tracked, there have been 287 criminal magistrates of violent and sex crimes since January 1 this year. Of those 287, none have gone to trial, and only three have resulted in plea deals. Recent plea deals involving violent crimes cases prior to 2022 have seen a violent criminal receive a three-day sentence, charges dropped against a man who beat an old lady unconscious, and a sentence reduction for a serial child rapist.
Mr. Camacho also decided not to prosecute the governor’s former legal counsel and son in law for crimes the public auditor alleged in an audit he committed, when he conducted the illegal procurement of the Pacific Star Hotel as a quarantine facility at the start of the pandemic. Mr. Camacho and the governor’s son in law are known to be friends. He did not recuse himself from deciding not to prosecute him.
The current attorney general also has refused to withdraw the government of Guam from a lawsuit it launched against Core Tech International involving Ukudu land that properly-filed documents show belongs to the company. The AG’s decision to pursue the case has resulted in three major court decisions against the government that could end up costing ratepayers $200 million. While this debacle unfolds before the public’s eyes, Mr. Camacho has refused to enforce the provisions of the 1998 tobacco Master Settlement Agreement as it relates to the sale of now-contraband cigarettes by a company with close ties to the attorney general.