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Governor seeks re-election.

A month after his U.S. federal indictment on campaign finance fraud charges, Puerto Rico Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila said he will seek re-election in November, reports Reuters (April 27, 2008): The announcement came at a meeting of his Popular Democrat Party in San Juan, where more than 5,000 delegates ratified a resolution vowing to support him as their candidate despite his legal problems. The party favors maintaining Puerto Rico's status as a commonwealth rather than seeking full U.S. statehood for the island;

Acevedo Vila has accused U.S. federal authorities of filing trumped-up charges against him to help his opponent in the November election, Luis Fortuno, the Republican head of the pro-statehood New Progressive Party. Federal prosecutors indicted Acevedo Vila on 19 criminal charges on March 27. Twelve of his political associates, including contributors, campaign staff and aides, were indicted on related charges.

Acevedo Vila pleaded innocent to the charges, which include conspiracy, making false statements to the FBI, wire fraud, defrauding a federal election funding program and tax crimes. He is also accused of using campaign money for personal expenses and helping to obtain government contracts for Pennsylvania businessmen who made illegal contributions. Acevedo Vila faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted on all of the counts;

Despite the support he won at the party assembly, powerful voices within the PDP are saying Acevedo Vila should drop his candidacy. The dissent comes from various quarters, including an association representing PDP mayors and Rafael Hernandez Colon, a former three-term governor. The party has until August to substitute its candidate. Prosecutors and defense attorneys last week proposed Feb. 9, 2009 as the start to the trial of Acevedo Vila and his co-defendants. U.S. District Judge Paul Barbadoro, who was brought in from New Hampshire to handle the case, must still approve the date.
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Title Annotation:PUERTO RICO
Publication:Caribbean Update
Date:Jun 1, 2008
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