Will election law be enforced?

Three campaigns have kicked off their bids to become American Samoa’s next Governor and Lt. Governor.

The first, Sen. Nuanuaolefeagaiga Saoluaga T. Nua confirmed his candidacy for governor in the 2020 gubernatorial race on January 25, 2019.

Tapumanaia Galu Satele Jr. was announced as Nuanuaolefeagaiga’s running mate on February 14, 2019.

More recently, Iaulualo Faafetai Talia announced his intention to be the territory’s next governor along with running mate Tapaau Dr. Dan Mageo Aga on July 27, 2019.

American Samoa’s first all female gubernatorial team, Fatumalala L. A. Al-Shehri for governor and Leah A. Smith for lieutenant governor, announced their candidacy on July 29, 2019.

The American Samoa Code Annotated Section 4.0102 item (f) states “Candidates for the offices of Governor and Lieutenant Governor who are employees of the government in whatever capacity and for either the executive, or judicial branches, must resign their position with the government before commencing active campaigning. ‘Active campaigning’ includes but is not limited to: the acceptance of a petition from the election official charged with that responsibility; any effort whatsoever that is designed to influence or obtain votes from qualified electors; and any activity that would cause a conflict of interest at the candidate’s position of employment with the government. In any event, candidates must resign no later than 60 days prior to the election date even if the events above have not occurred.”

Presently, Iaulualo Faafetai Talia is the Executive Director of the American Samoa Government Employees’ Retirement Fund, Tapaau Dr. Dan Mageo Aga is the Executive Director of the ASG Office on Political Status, Constitutional Review and Federal Relations, and Tapumanaia Galu Satele Jr. Is the Deputy Director of the Office for the Protection and Advocacy for the Disabled.

As of today, none have resigned from their executive branch positions despite commencing active campaigning.

While legislative branch employees are not covered by this law, Sen. Nuanuaolefeagaiga Saoluaga T. Nua is the Chairman of the Development Bank of American Samoa Board of Directors and this position is considered part of the executive branch.

He remains as the bank’s chairman.

The law’s intention is to minimize conflicts of interest and prevent public funding of campaigns by paying candidates’ salaries.

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