Washington - The White House wants to advance the process of renewing the Board overseeing Puerto Rico’s public finances, according to Republican and Democratic sources.
Sources said the White House asked congressional leaders to submit candidates for President Donald Trump to begin the process of appointing new members and probably reappoint some.
The original appointments of the seven members of the Board expired on August 30, 2019. The renewal process began on July 1 following the resignations of Board chairman, José Carrión, and Carlos García, effective October 5 and August 31, respectively.
Back then, the White House Reconstruction Coordinator for Puerto Rico, Rear Admiral Peter Brown, acknowledged that there would be “multiple” resignations and that talks with congressional leaders on the issue had begun.
The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that “the Trump administration is preparing to make appointments to the board overseeing Puerto Rico´s finances.”
Right now, the aim is to formally begin the process with congressional leaders submitting the lists of the candidates, two sources -one Republican and one Democrat- explained.
It may take up to two months to complete the candidate selection process and background check conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
By refreshing the Board before elections, either by appointing new members or reappointing some, the White House would ensure a balance of four Republicans and three Democrats, no matter what happens on the November 3 elections.
Among the potential Republican candidates for the Board, one name that has been mentioned is that of Rear Admiral Brown himself, who would probably have to leave his current position if he were interested and were Trump’s candidate.
Brown - who reportedly wants to return to Florida - could be a strong candidate to fill the position held by José Ramón González, who was directly appointed by former President Barack Obama, according to a Republican source. Since 2019, González has reportedly had the intention of leaving the Board.
Brown’s office referred any questions to the White House Press Office, which did not respond to messages.
The Wall Street Journal mentions - among other possible Republican candidates - Puerto Rican Javier Ortiz, an entrepreneur who was part of the U.S. president’s Transition Team and works with the Latinos for Trump committee, and former Utah and Michigan government budget director John Nixon.
The newspaper also mentions Nobel Laureate economist, and Columbia University Professor Joseph Stiglitz as a potential candidate for the Democratic leadership. But one source does not believe Stiglitz has the time to become a Board member or that he has been consulted by Democrats.
According to PROMESA, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi can propose lists for two candidates, one of whom must have Puerto Rico as his or her main place of residence or business.
The Senate Republican majority leader Mitch McConnell can recommend two of the members.
Both Senate Democratic minority leader, Charles Schumer, and House Republican minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, can propose a candidate each.
Meanwhile, Trump can directly appoint one of the Board members.