The day after Christmas 2016, and only six days before the new administration took office, Wilmarie Rosado Torres and José M. Huertas Torres -donors to several New Progressive Party (PNP, Spanish acronym) campaign committees - registered two corporations that signed contracts for $363,000 with the legislative branch.
Rosado Torres and Huerta Torres´ corporation, listed AHC Consulting Corp. signed two contracts with Puerto Rico House of Representatives for $156,200 for legislative consulting services to Luis Pérez Ortiz, representing Bayamón District 7 and to handle cases involving his constituents in government agencies for a fee ranging from $122 to $155 an hour.
Meanwhile, the other company, listed in the Department of State registry as MHR Consulting, signed consulting and professional agreements with the Senate Community Liaison office and with the Special Joint Committee on Legislative Funds for Community Impact totaling $190,900, according to the Puerto Rico Comptroller´s Office (OCPR, Spanish acronym) registry.
Donations to committees
In the Senate Community Liaison office, MHR Consulting is overseen by its director Joyce Negrón Vázquez, who, in 2016, as a PNP candidate received $3,115 in donations from the owners of this consulting firm. Last year, the couple donated $1,877 to Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz's campaign committee, according to the Office of the Elections Comptroller.
MHR's contracts with the Senate were signed by Huertas Torres, who has been both coordinator and advisor to the Community Liaison office for a fee of $50 an hour in agreements including between 30 and 40 hours per month. The contracts were signed in August 2018, January and July 2019. This last contract, which would run until June 30, 2020, was canceled last Friday October 4.
Three months after Hurricane María struck the island, right as the recovery process was beginning, MHR, created for consulting services, legislation and permits, changed its name to become MHR Consulting & General Contractor.
Huertas Torres was charged by the Department of Justice with alleged violations of the Criminal Code related to electoral fraud in 2012 during the Guaynabo district primary election. In that electoral event, contenders Antonio "Tony" Soto and Ángel Pérez Otero accused each other of having promoted illegal changes of address of acquaintances in order to vote in that primary.
Charges against Huertas Torres did not succeed. Huerta Torres was Perez Otero's advisor both in the House and as mayor of Guaynabo. The agreement with the Municipality of Guaynabo required MHR Consulting to provide daily monitoring of legislation and advice to the mayor - who was a lawmaker - on legislative matters.
During aninvestigation by an ad hoc Committee of the State Elections Commission, Huertas Torres said he holds a bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Bayamon Central University. He was also described as born and raised in Bayamón and a PNP activist since he was 18, according to the ad hoc Committee report.
MHR Consulting also has a contract to conduct field research for the Joint Commission on Legislative Funds, which is chaired by Representative Soto and Bayamonese Senator Migdalia Padilla.
As field researches, they had to essentially visit the entities receiving legislative funds, fill out an evaluation form provided by the commission, and attend the Commission's office at Capitol of Puerto Rico twice a month for less than an hour.
Neither the Committee director Alfredo Martínez Amador; nor the House secretary Elizabeth Stuart; or Committees chairs allowed this newspaper access to the bills or to the reports the contractor has to submit.
Although the Joint Commission on Legislative Funds has committed $777,000 in services and legal consulting, many contracts signed between the Commission, Rosado Torres and Huertas Torres have different information in the same document documents.
For example, the second clause in contracts 2017-000139 and 2018-000153 says that the field researcher must submit an invoice with the total sum of hours at $70 and work a total of 95 hours per month. However, the ninth clause of those same contracts states that the researcher will provide a maximum of 40 hours per month at $72.50.
Meanwhile, in contract 2019-000180 the second clause indicates that the researcher must bill the total sum of the hours at $100 and work 100 hours per month. But the ninth clause in that contract provides for a maximum of 100 hours per month at $40 an hour.
Contract 2019-000194, signed in January 2019, sets the rate at $100 in one clause and $56 in another clause. That contract was amended in February 2019 with a single rate of $56.
Since El Nuevo Día was not allowed to examine the bills, it was not possible to verify the rate and the total number of hours actually billed by MHR Consulting.