Campaign 2020: Lolo says it's ok, as long as it’s not on gov’t time, using gov’t vehicles
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — As American Samoa heads towards the political campaign season for the November 2020 general election, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga tells cabinet members not to use government time and property for political campaigning or activities.
Next year’s election includes the gubernatorial race, and Lolo is barred under the Constitution from seeking a third four-year term.
There’s been a lot of talk within the community and political circles about Lt. Gov. Lemanu Sialega Palepoi Mauga running for the governor’s post, but there has been no official announcement yet. Meanwhile, three gubernatorial teams have made public announcements in the past three months.
Speaking at last Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, Lolo said the territory is moving towards the political campaign season, and he has no problems with people involved in campaign events, because it brings their message to the public and benefits the community.
Lolo told directors, “don’t do any political campaigning or activities during government time or using government property.” This is the same message cabinet members are to deliver to their staff.
Lolo said Lemanu is “fully aware of this issue” and Lemanu will carry out his political campaigning — but not on government time or using ASG property. The governor didn’t elaborate on Lemanu’s political aspiration.
“We all have duties and responsibilities that come first,” Lolo reminded cabinet members, adding that directors are not prohibited from political campaigning. However, those who use government vehicles, including directors who are assigned government cars, are not to use them but instead, “use your own private car to do campaigning,” Lolo said.
And whoever is running for public office, carry out “your political campaigning in a happy” and peaceful manner, as Samoans do all the time, in past campaign seasons, said Lolo, adding that when called upon by God to take up political posts, “we should accept it.”
POSSIBLE FEDERAL SHUTDOWN
Lolo forewarned cabinet members to be prepared in the event of a federal government shutdown at year’s end, as the “environment” in Washington D.C. appears to be unstable at this time.
“You’ve seen and heard on the news” coming out of the nation’s capital and “we don’t know when some of those many issues will be settled.” Lolo mentioned one issue in particular — “impeachment”.
According to the governor, as long as the “impeachment issue” moves forward, there’s not much movement when it comes to federal matters in Washington D.C. The US House of Representatives is currently conducting an impeachment inquiry against US President Donald Trump, which is flooding the US news cycle.
“So we should expect — coming towards the end of the year — there might be a federal government shutdown,” Lolo told cabinet members, noting that he remains in communication with the US Department of Interior and other federal agencies.
Lolo told cabinet members that there will be “some changes” coming during the first week of January next year. He said the changes are for the “good” of government, but didn’t elaborate.