Propst alleges Torres officials bribed voters through BOOST grants

Edwin Propst, vice chairman of the ongoing House inquiry into the corrupt use of federal funds during the Ralph Torres administration, alleged in a hearing today that several BOOST recipients openly celebrated receiving federal funds from Mr. Torres and his cronies in exchange for their support in the 2022 election.

According to federal law under 18 U.S. Code §597 – Expenditures to influence voting, “Whoever makes or offers to make an expenditure to any person, either to vote or withhold his vote, or to vote for or against any candidate; and Whoever solicits, accepts, or receives any such expenditure in consideration of his vote or the withholding of his vote— Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if the violation was willful, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.”

Edwin Propst

Mr. Propst said the committee has found evidence “deeply concerning,” during his interrogation of Torres-era finance secretary David Atalig, Jr. Mr. Atalig, like the three who testified before him under subpoena by the House anti-corruption committee, invoked his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent under questioning.

In a September 14, 2022 document from the Commonwealth Economic Development Agency, Mr. Propst pointed to a section of proposed rules for what would become the BOOST program that laid out which types of businesses and people would be ineligible for BOOST aid. Among those entities listed were commercial landlords.

“Mr. Atalig, when you were giving out BOOST awards, did you not notice how many you were giving out to apartment and landlord owners?” Mr. Propst asked him.

David Atalig, Jr.

“On the advice of my attorney, I respectfully respond to your question by asserting my Fifth Amendment right under the United States Constitution, as well as the CNMI Constitution, Article 1, Section 4c,” Mr. Atalig replied.

“Thank you. This is among the several concerns that we have, and it’s a big one, for those who want to understand, that there were a ton of apartment owners who were given BOOST,” Mr. Propst said, continuing, “some of them have said, who stated publicly that ‘I will support Governor Ralph Torres if I receive a BOOST.'”

He asked Mr. Atalig whether he had heard any such type of conspiracy to bribe government officials. Mr. Atalig replied by asserting his right to remain silent.

Mr. Propst believes this program was used by Torres administration officials to bribe voters by using federal funds.

This is the first of several stories Kandit will publish regarding the interrogation of Mr. Atalig during Tuesday’s morning hearing. The interrogation continues Wednesday at 2 p.m. Kandit will cover this live.


  • This committee needs to stop pretending to be litigators, asking questions that are only going to be destroyed by a more powerful tool on the side of the witness – the US and CNMI Constitution. I guarantee you that this matter is with the Feds and like the Rydlyme case with the former Lt, the feds will take their time to build a slam dunk case that will force witnesses like David, Jesus, Wil, etc to avoid jail time by cutting a deal with the Feds that will haul Raffy and his brothers in. Be interesting to see if there is a nexus with other agencies, Homeland, CHCC, etc. Let’s get going with the indictments FEDS!!!

  • 1. Propst, you’re saying that you “heard?” some people were award BOOST money to vote for then gubernatorial candidate Ralph Torres? Have you verified the veracity of that statement, who said something like that? So, why aren’t you after them, too? If you are alleging “Illegality” regarding the awards, then why are you not going after them, or send AG-Manibusan’s people after them? Where is the “Illegality of the awarding and accepting if the awardee followed established procedure? Or are you holding back because of your declared candidacy for the Office of Delegate currently being held by the Honorable Greg “Kilili” Camacho Sablan? Per 18 USC Sect 592, you said. Prove your allegation.

    • With the tsunami of evidence and testimony so far on this dumpster fire, you seriously going to pigeon hole this whole debacle to a single statement by Ed? BTW, its Sect 597 and not 592 and its illegal for both the govt and the recipient regardless whether the awardee followed established procedure….which incidentally, there were none to speak off which make it egregious all together. The recipients of the awards are not the concern here Sir Rudy, rather its the vile rats that were entrusted with sacred public funds that need to be locked up!!! Moreover, the legislature is not a court of law and so the strategy is not to litigate the matter in public, rather the exercise here is to “expose” the illegal activity for the entire CNMI to see and hear and hopefully, spook the crooks like Wil, David, et al to realize they need to decide awful quickly, which hill they want to die on. At some point, the limits of the 5th Amendment will hit them up side the head and possibly into next week and then look at their children and spouses and decide if its really worth going to jail from lying to protect Raffy and his cronies. And trust me, even if Ed goes after those that got boosted in exchange for their votes, all together, I would venture to say that they represent a percent of a percent of the total votes he needs….so, yeah..not gonna move the needle at all so not even worth the energy and time and if you are a local, you know its part of the culture as well and people tell politician to buy their votes. BIBA MARIANAS!

      • 1. Yeah, I accept the correction to the “typo.” My concern is: Is the Committee going after others? Or is the Committee just limiting its investigation to “certain” people involved in the BOOST project? Are the BOOST participants going to be charged for violation of that 18 U.S. Sect 597? Rep Yumul said the Committee is only investigating. Isn’t the Committee going to push it further? I hope the Committee, via AG-Eddie, take the issue to the court with proper jurisdiction. ###

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