Is Contract for ASVB Chief Legal?

Lawmakers who wanted to find out who drafted the contract for the Executive Director of the American Samoa Visitors Bureau did not get anything out of Attorney General, Talauega Eleasalo Ale.

Nor did they get any information out of ASCTA’s Acting CEO, Aleki Sene Jr. who was an ASVB Board member when the contract for Mr. David Vaeafe was drafted.

In separate budget hearings,  Talauega and Sene fielded questions about David Vaeafe’s contract.

AG Talauega said he played no part in the contract terms and conditions …he only rendered his signature on the contract form in accordance with standard procedure.

ASVB’s Executive Director’s “extreme” contract as the lawmakers labeled it includes benefits such as medical that other CEOs are not entitled to.

Talauega said the Visitors Bureau Board approved the terms and conditions of the contract before submitting it for his signature.

The AG, having nothing more to offer, added some humor to the discussion.

He said he hopes Fono leaders are considering the same benefits for him.

The AG was also asked about the legality of a contract endorsed by just a few board members.

Neither lawmakers nor the AG could confirm the number of ASVB board members who approved Vaeafe’s contract but Talauega gave his word that he will look into it.

Senator Magalei Logovi’i said if the controversial contract was approved without a quorum of the board, the contract is not legal.

Senator Tuaolo Fruean pointed out that the salary for the Deputy Director of Education is $61,000 while that of the the Visitors Bureau’s deputy is $63,000.

He suggested that the AG consider legislation to have the Governor set the salaries and benefits of the government’s top positions.

KHJ News points out that when the Visitors Bureau was established as a semi independent agency of ASG it was to be run as a stand alone authority, to be funded by the private sector.

The enabling legislation provided that there will be a gradual phase out of ASg funding while private funding would be used to operate the bureau.

The salaries and benefits of the CEO are to be set by the board.

AG Talauea said the salaries of CEO , with some exceeding the salary of the governor has been discussed often since he started working in ASG.

He explained that some states have laws whereby no other government employee is paid a salary higher than the Governor’s.

There’s no such law in American Samoa but the AG said one can be drafted at the will of the Fono and government leaders.

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