Governor Ralph DLG Torres of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands has been acquitted by the CNMI Senate, 4-3, on all charges.
The articles of impeachment accused Torres of felony, neglect of duty and corruption.
In a statement, Governor Torres said, “I would like to personally thank all the people who took the time to display their support, encouragement, love, and prayers. Most importantly, I want to thank them for their continued belief in my Administration.”
He thanked the Senate for “reviewing the factual information presented by my attorneys and the witnesses who provided testimony, for their diligence throughout the impeachment proceeding and entire process, and for making informed decisions.”
He added that he was “thankful that we can now move forward, and I can continue to work hard for the people of the Commonwealth.”
The four votes to acquit the governor came from Senate President Jude U. Hofschneider, R-Tinian; Sen. Victor B. Hocog, R-Rota; Sen. Frank Cruz, R-Tinian; and Sen. Karl King-Nabors, R-Tinian. Meanwhile, those who voted for his conviction were former Senate President Paul Manglona, Ind.-Rota; Sen. Teresita A. Santos, Ind.-Rota; and Sen. Edith Deleon Guerrero, D-Saipan.
Two senators recused from participating citing conflicts of interest: Senate Vice President Justo Quitugua, R-Saipan, is a relative of the governor while Senate Floor Leader Vinnie F. Sablan, R-Saipan, is his running mate.
The impeachment trial of Governor Torres is a first for the CNMI and for any other U.S. territory.
Former governor Benigno R. Fitial was the first CNMI governor ever to be impeached; however, he resigned in 2013 before the CNMI Senate could hold a trial. His then lieutenant governor Eloy S. Inos assumed the governorship and eventually won the succeeding election. Torres, the incumbent, served as lieutenant governor to Inos until the latter passed away in 2015 following an open-heart surgery in Seattle, Washington.