By Barnini Chakraborty, ,
Published June 19, 2018
The administration of the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, who shot to international fame after criticizing President Trump for not doing enough to help Hurricane Maria victims, is being investigated by the FBI on corruption charges, according a local news outlet.
Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz and her administration are under fire for allegedly obstructing critical supplies from reaching victims of the category-4 hurricane that leveled much of the tiny U.S. territory nearly nine months ago.
The FBI reportedly launched the investigation following a February lawsuit filed by Yadira Molina, the former director of procurement. Molina claims she was retaliated against for reporting “alleged irregular acts” to the local comptroller.
“On February 21, Molina sued the city council after reporting alleged acts of corruption in the shopping division in the town hall under the administration of Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz Soto,” according to El Vocero de Puerto Rico.
“She comes out, goes on television and pats herself on the back."
The report says Molina claims she was punished for reporting on the allegedly rigged system and that she was blocked from her right “to report wrongdoing in her capacity as a private citizen, not as a public employee.”
Shortly after Cruz became mayor, Molina claims a supply company was granted “preferred supplier” status which paid them more than three times what regular suppliers made. She also alleges that other city officials engaged in a corrupt scheme to steer business the preferred supplier’s way.
Concerns about Cruz are not new. There has been a growing backlash from frustrated residents who say they feel forgotten and say the mayor’s personal political ambitions are coming at the expense of the very people she’s supposed to be representing.
For example, at a time when residents needed food, water and shelter, Cruz hired extra photographers to follow her around post-storm.
“She comes out, goes on television and pats herself on the back,” Simon Menendez, a small business owner in San Juan, told Fox News. “It stopped being about us a long time ago.”
A bartender at a popular hotel in Old San Juan told Fox she feels like a political pawn. But complaints from constituents are largely being ignored.
Instead, Cruz’s feud with the president over recovery efforts have turned her into a liberal star – and it’s a role she seems to be relishing. Her global close-up has morphed into a parade of self-promotion.
She’s showed up on numerous television shows – including The Late Show with Stephen Colbert – and scored a high-profile invite to the State of the Union as the guest of New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
She was also featured on Time magazine as one of the most influential people of 2018.
Last month, she traveled to Connecticut to receive the “Latina Champion” award at the Latinas & Power Symposium, which promotes Hispanic professional women. She then went on to Boston to receive an honorary doctorate and give the baccalaureate address at Boston University.
Back home in Puerto Rico, officials say the island remains in desperate need of help and is woefully unprepared should another storm hit soon. Among other things, there is little to no water or diesel fuel for generators. This year’s hurricane season started June 1.
A new Harvard University study published in the New England Journal of Medicine estimates the number of people who died in Puerto Rico as the result of Maria could top 4,600. The official number issued by the U.S. territory is 64.
Multiple attempts to reach Cruz were unsuccessful.
FBI spokesman Carlos Osorio told Fox News that “FBI San Juan neither confirms nor denies the existence of investigations.”