LAWSUIT CHALLENGES AMERICAN SAMOA GOVERNOR TAUESE’S AUTHORITY

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PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (January 9, 1998 - Samoa News)---Governor Tauese Sunia’s authority to name himself as the Territory’s chief procurement officer has been officially challenged by a lawsuit from the House of Representatives and House Speaker Ma’ilo Sao Nua.

Filed by Legislative Counsel Arthur Ripley, Jr., in the High Court Tuesday afternoon, the suit also challenges Secretary of Samoan Affairs Sotoa Muasau Savali for taking his post without legislative approval. Sotoa, the Governor’s brother-in-law, was also appointed by the Governor to the post.

The suit seeks permanent injunctions against the two gentlemen, barring them from acting in those capacities.

In Sotoa’s case, the suit also seeks to prevent paying him for serving as Secretary of Samoan Affairs until the Legislation decides on his nomination.

The suit was filed "pursuant to the wish of the majority of the House of Representatives as expressed in House Resolution No. 25-81 that was duly passed on September 25, 1997."

The resolution authorizes the filing of the lawsuit, if necessary, against Tauese and Sotoa if the Governor did not comply with the House’s request.

The suit alleges that the Secretary of Samoan Affairs must be confirmed by the Legislature of American Samoa, pursuant with local laws.

"In spite of the request by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Governor Tauese has expressly stated that the said appointment of Sotoa does not require confirmation by the Legislature," the lawsuit points out.

"Unless Sotoa is restrained from continuing to serve as the Secretary of Samoan Affairs," the suit continues, "he will continue to act in an official capacity in violation of the laws of the Territory of American Samoa.

"Governor Tauese has carried out and performed the duties of the chief procurement officer since he took office in January 1997 and will continue to do so unless he is restrained and prevented from doing so, and required to appoint a qualified person to that position," the suit continues.

In a September 15, 1997 letter to Speaker Ma’ilo, Governor Tauese had heatedly defended his stands on the two issues.

"I have already written to you regarding my retention of the portfolio of the Chief Procurement Officer," declared the Governor. "I am indeed the Procurement Officer until such time that I will decide otherwise.

"As to the confirmation of the Secretary of Samoan Affairs, I thought that was no longer an issue since that was settled during a previous Coleman administration," Tauese noted.

"It should be clear then that the Secretary of Samoan Affairs does not require Legislative confirmation," he reiterated.

No date has been set for a court hearing, and the Governor has 20 days to respond to the House’s lawsuit.

Stories from the SAMOA NEWS, American Samoa's daily newspaper, may not be republished without permission. To contact the publisher, send e-mail to .

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