IN the first of a series of videos responding to concerns raised by the House Committee on Judiciary and Government Operations, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres spoke about the utility bills of his residence.

Interviewed by KKMP host Gary Sword, Torres said for months he has urged the House panel members to send him their concerns so that he can tell them the truth.

He said he sent a letter to the committee chair, Rep. Celina R. Babauta, on Monday, Nov. 8, requesting that questions be sent to him in writing within a week’s time.

“Yet two weeks after the letter was sent, no response by the JGO was received. Our people deserve the truth. Therefore, I have decided to end this political show before the holidays so we can all get back to doing real work for our people,” he said.

Regarding his utility bills, Torres said even before his tenure, the official residences of the governor and lt. governor on Capital Hill were already deemed uninhabitable by the Department of Public Works.

“Every governor and lt. governor would stay at their residence and the government would pay for their utility. That includes water and power,” Torres said, but added that the government has never paid for his mortgage.

He said there was already a foundation for a pig farm in the area before he purchased the land.

There have been issues raised by the JGO committee regarding water usage, which the governor said is linked to this piggery.

He said he had noticed that there was an extremely high and unusual billing for a particular month, which he found concerning, so he contacted CUC Executive Director Gary Camacho.

“I asked him to please look into it because there [had] to be a reason why one [billing] had more water [usage than previous billings]. Since then, I asked Gary to make sure that we put a separate billing, water meter, and make sure that, again, [he] treats me fair when calculating and making sure that each meter is charged the right way — meaning that there’s government rate and there’s residential rate,” Torres said.

Upon his request, the water meter was separated from the main house so now, the pig farm has its own meter and his home has its own meter, he added.

“To be clear, the government has not paid a penny on the private meter that deals with the piggery,” he said.

As for making utility payments in cash, the governor said his bill was $6,000 and he was told that if he did not pay, CUC would disconnect his utilities.

The governor said he had to ask help from his loved ones because he did not have enough funds at the time to pay for the bill.

He was later reimbursed for that payment because he said the government was supposed to have taken care of that account, but there was a delay in the paperwork for the necessary funds.

The governor said he has not received preferential treatment on his utility bills, and has asked that no preferential treatment be given to him.

He noted that CUC executive director Camacho’s testimony supports his claims.

As for his utility billings amounting to $177,278, which have been called “unusual” and “excessive” by the committee, Torres said there was an issue during the month that he had received that “alarming billing” and he had contacted CUC executive director Camacho to resolve the matter.

Regarding an account registered to his sister Judy Marie Torres, the governor said when he moved into their Koblerville family home, the billings were already under his sister’s name.

But he said he was given the option of either disconnecting his sister’s account, paying disconnection and reconnection fees, and changing the account name to his name —  or have his sister issue an official authorization letter to establish the governor’s residency at the home with his sister’s name still on the account.

He said the payments were for his utility bills.

As for the $16,949 March to April 2019 billing, the governor said this was the same situation that prompted him to ask CUC executive director Camacho to separate the meters.

“Since then, we have been stable on all of the charges every month,” he said.

According to the governor, “This is the first in a series of videos that will provide factual information directly from me in response to the JGO’s allegations. I look forward to sharing more of my responses to these political and abusive allegations to you the people directly in the coming weeks. I wish you all a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving with your family, friends, and loved ones.”

The governor’s video is posted on his personal Facebook page.

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