Report: Puerto Rico Senate made ‘extravagant’ purchases

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico’s Comptroller Office released a report Wednesday saying the island’s Senate made nearly $30,000 worth of “extravagant, excessive and unnecessary” purchases from 2013 to 2020.

The report comes as the U.S. territory tries to emerge from the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history and remains under the eye of a federal control board overseeing the island’s finances. Puerto Rico declared in 2015 that it was unable to pay its more than $70 billion public debt.

The report found that the items bought included a $2,545 sofa, two chandeliers worth $1,200 each, three chairs valued at $675 each, two laptops worth more than $9,000 and an $870 console table, among other things.

The Comptroller Office said it wasn’t clear whether any effort was made to contact the Senate’s warehouse to see if it had any of the furniture sought by a former legislator who was not identified.

In addition, $8,200 was spent to buy 225 red shirts for a 2015 sporting event that already included official shirts, the report said.

“This expense turned out to be unnecessary, because it was of no use to the public,” the report said.

The office also found that the Senate paid more than $16,000 to update online systems, but those were never installed.

The report said the Senate improperly spent nearly $75,000 on medical insurance for 10 police officers serving as bodyguards for political leaders when those officers already had their own insurance via the police department.

The report issued various recommendations, including that the president of the Senate ensure such spending is not repeated.

Those who served as president of Puerto Rico’s Senate during the years covered by the comptroller’s investigation could not be immediately reached for comment. A spokesman for the current Senate president, José Luis Dalmau, said he wasn’t immediately available for comment.

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