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Jul 26, 2017

Senate Public Hearing Canceled over Dispute about Audit Team Witnesses

Aldo Salazar

Those tuning in to Channel Five this morning expecting to see our live coverage of the Senate Special Select Committee’s public hearings will have been disappointed to see that they weren’t on. We can tell you tonight that the reason for that is an apparent dispute over the relevance of today’s witnesses, members of the Audit Department’s investigative team at the Immigration and Nationality Department from 2013 to 2015. The thinking is that they could have provided greater insight into the process, but according to Chairman of the Committee Aldo Salazar, there were concerns that calling the witnesses would undermine the original and future testimony of Auditor General Dorothy Bradley, who has ultimate responsibility for the Audit Report that forms the basis of the hearing. After failing to reach consensus, the meeting adjourned without any witnesses testifying.

 

Aldo Salazar, Chair, Senate Special Select Committee

“The witnesses who were to come forward are from the Audit team, that carried out the process in compiling the Auditor General’s report, and we really don’t have consensus that we should really interview those persons as opposed to the Auditor General herself, who has that constitutional responsibility to answer questions as to who has compiled the report. The analogy has been made, say, similar to me – I am an attorney; I give a legal opinion and I stand by that opinion, I sign it; but inevitably, we cannot do everything on our own, I have staff that help me with research, and then you go around me and question my staff when I am really the person responsible – I am the professional, I am the responsible person for that opinion. So that is where we have that lack of consensus, so that is why we didn’t go ahead today.”

 

Reporter

“What is exactly the dissenting opinion in questioning the staff – is it not proper; what is exactly the matter?”

 

Aldo Salazar

“The question is – I’m not pronouncing on it – the question is one of propriety; whether it should really be done, or whether it is the Auditor General herself who must respond to those queries and not necessarily the people who did the work because if you look at the report, it is signed by the Auditor General, only her, so that is really the concern.”

 

Reporter

“At the end of the day we see that a hearing is canceled; did the committee not have enough time to do this kind of consideration prior to experiencing what you guys have today?”

 

Aldo Salazar

“I think it’s unfortunate; I would say that the committee should have had the opportunity. But I think you would note that we have been, for the past few weeks, in a situation where the committee, as it is comprised, all of the members have not been present for some reason or the other, so I think that is really what contributed to it. And even so today, regrettably, Senator Smith could not be with us as well.”

 

Reporter

“And it could not be a case where you could have the Auditor General and members of her team, given that she was not necessarily the one who was in there for the most part – it was her team, so they would likely be able to shed some light on some things that she would not be able to and would have to go back to them.”

 

Aldo Salazar

“That is really the issue: is it really the Auditor General that should respond? The view is, on the one hand, that the Auditor General should properly respond; if there are any questions, she is the one that is capable of finding out whatever needs to be found out from her team, as opposed to individual members of her team speaking about what didn’t get into the report, what should be in the report.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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