The full contents of a private group chat between Puerto Rico governor Ricardo Rosselló and close associates were publicly disclosed Saturday morning, after several days of partial leaks that have rocked the Caribbean island.
The 889-page document, published by the non-profit journalism group Centro de Periodismo Investigativo and obtained from an anonymous source, details efforts by high-ranking officials and collaborators to manipulate public narrative through mass media, influence public polls to favor the administration, and operate a “troll network” to discredit negative press coverage and criticism from opposition leaders.
The document —which reveals conversations made through the messaging app Telegram from late 2018 to January 20 of this year— also reveals several comments of a sexual, misogynistic and homophobic vein from Rosselló and other members of the chat group, as well as profanity.
Some of the targets of such comments include San Juan mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz; Popular Democratic members Roberto Prats and Eduardo Bhatia, with the latter being a particular target of homophobic comments, as well as members of the Fiscal Oversight Board (FOB), especially its president, José Carrión, and its executive director, Natalie Jaresko.
The chat also targeted El Nuevo Día journalist and columnist Benjamin Torres Gotay and lawyer John Mudd (both of whom were called a “c**ksucker”), CBS news correspondent and anchor David Begnaud, news bloggers Jay Fonseca and Sandra Rodriguez Cotto, and activist groups such as Colectiva Feminista (Feminist Collective), among others.
Former Rosselló gubernatorial campaign manager Elías Sánchez; government chief financial officer and representative to the FOB, Christian Sobrino, and former public affairs secretary Ramón Rosario were among the participants in the group chat. The group also includes chief of staff Ricardo Llerandi; Edwin Miranda, a publicist and owner of KOI, a local advertising firm; Alfonso Orona, a former legal advisor to the governor, and public relations experts Carlos Bermúdez and Rafael Cerame.
Department of State secretary Luis Rivera Marín and recently ousted Treasury secretary Raúl Maldonado also appear in the chat, although in a more tangential capacity, with the most controversial remarks in the chat being mostly attributed to Sánchez, Sobrino, Miranda, and Rosselló himself.
Among the most damning moments in the chat, some of which had already been leaked publicly earlier this week, are efforts to discredit the federally-appointed monitor for the Police Department, Arnaldo Claudio, who left the post under duress last May. On Friday, Claudio revealed that he submitted copies of the group chat as evidence to the FBI, with the intention of kick starting an investigation on the matter.
The chat’s full disclosure generated a swift wave of reactions, including from fellow members of the Rosselló administration. On Saturday, Puerto Rico’s non-voting representative in Congress, Jenniffer González, called for Rosselló to remove himself from running for reelection in 2020, while Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz, himself a target of mockery in the document, called for the removal of all of the chat’s participants from public office.