Impeachment charges have been filed against the governor of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Gov. Ralph Torres was charged Friday morning with “commission of felonies, corruption, and neglect of duty,” according to a House resolution.

Torres has been under investigation for misspending public funds since 2019, accused of spending inordinate amounts on travel and entertainment and using government personnel while on vacation, among other things.

The investigating Judiciary and Governmental Operations Committee filed impeachment charges following months of hearings involving subpoenaed witnesses with close working or personal relationships with the governor.

The governor was also subpoenaed and asked to testify under oath. He refused and was found in contempt.

Torres then filed a lawsuit against the committee, after calling the investigation a politically motivated witch hunt instigated by House minority Democrats. Torres has published a series of videos in response to the committee’s accusations on his public Facebook page.

Committee members claimed Torres frustrated the investigative process by attempting to influence witnesses, but committee chairwoman Celina Babauta said witnesses corroborated enough “irrefutable” evidence to necessitate impeachment charges.

“They had nothing to hide,” Babauta said in an email. “The sheer volume of the evidence provided by the Department of Finance, DPS, and the Administration is undisputable. The numbers don’t lie.”

Judicial and Governmental Operations Committee Chairwoman Celina Babauta. Facebook

The impeachment resolution will be formally introduced to the House on Monday, after which the speaker can either form an impeachment committee or move the resolution to a vote; a timeframe for either action has not yet been determined.

And what comes next is largely out of the committee’s hands, contingent upon what will happen in the House.

“That remains to be seen, honestly, but we are hopeful and prayerful that it will succeed in the House,” Babauta told Civil Beat.

Lt. Gov. Arnold Palacios, who was subpoenaed during the hearings process, said events informed his decision to run against his former running mate, Torres, in the upcoming 2022 gubernatorial elections.

“These are very serious allegations of misuse of taxpayers’ money that only the governor himself must put to rest. The public deserves an explanation, nothing less. They have the right to know the truth because, after all, it is their money,” Palacios said in a statement on Friday.

The full impeachment charges and House resolution can be read below:

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