AMERICAN SAMOA POLICE COMMISSIONER FUAVAI RESIGNS

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By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (March 21, 2001 - PIDP/CPIS)---American Samoa Police Commissioner Te‘o J. Fuavai tendered a letter of resignation to Governor Tauese Sunia last Friday afternoon, about seven hours after the House of Representative voted 15-3 to reject his nomination to serve another four-year term.

In his letter, Te‘o stated that he had been informed that people in the Tauese administration lobbied to have the House of Representatives reject his confirmation.

He specifically accused Fofo Sunia (Tauese’s brother) and Mike Fuiava (one of Te‘o’s own Special Assistants) of lobbying against him, and he appeared to suggest that Governor Tauese and Tasi Mauga (another of Te‘o’s Special Assistants) played a role as well.

"For these reasons, I feel that your Administration has deceived me in my re-confirmation as the Commissioner for the Department of Public Safety," Te‘o wrote.

He submitted his resignation, effective March 30, because "I feel I cannot work for an Administration that betrays people who have been loyal and dedicated to its cause. "

As a matter of law, Te‘o can no longer serve as Acting Commissioner after the Governor is officially informed of a cabinet rejection.

A motion in the House to reconsider Te'o confirmation was rejected on Monday.

Governor Tauese Sunia said he did nothing to undermine Te‘o’s appointment.

He said the House Speaker informed him on Thursday that Te'o's nomination was in trouble, with police personnel lobbying their lawmaker to reject the confirmation.

"But I never encouraged any of these efforts in any way," Tauese said.

"I’m proud of the political development in the Fono (Legislature). This is new territory for the territory: having reconfirmation hearings. It is politically healthy, and I think it is good that the directors know that, just like me, their service will be judged after four years.

Fofo Sunia said it was "blatantly not true" that he had lobbied publicly or privately against Te‘o’s reconfirmation.

Mike Fuiava said it was "not true" that he had been openly campaigning against Te‘o’s reconfirmation. But Fuiava said that he has a personal right to express his views in our American system.

Asked if he had exercised those rights by privately discussing Te‘o’s confirmation with Fono members, Fuiava said, "No comment."

For their alleged role in ousting Te‘o, the Police Commissioner transferred Fuiava and Mauga to the Fire Division as punishment.

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