Puerto Rico governor to nominate new secretary of state

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló will nominate Pedro Pierluisi to be the next secretary of state, CBS News’ David Begnaud confirmed Tuesday. This means that if approved by the House and Senate, Pierluisi would become the next governor when Rosselló officially resigns Friday.

Rep. José Meléndez told The Associated Press the president of the island’s House of Representatives shared the information with legislators and asked them to be ready to meet in a special session. The special session will meet Friday at 1 p.m., with Rosselló’s resignation set for 5 p.m.

Puerto Rico has been thrown into a crisis since a group messaging scandal caused several top officials to resign, including the secretary of state.  Rosselló announced last week that he would be resigning effective Friday, and the next person in line, Secretary of Justice Wanda Vázquez said she has “no interest” in being governor.

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Pierluisi ran against Rosselló in the 2016 primaries of the New Progressive Party and lost. He served as Puerto Rico’s non-voting representative in Congress from 2009 to 2017.

If the House and Senate approved the nomination, Pierluisi would become Puerto Rico’s next governor after Rosselló’s resignation following nearly two weeks of big street protests.

However, Meléndez and other members of Rosselló’s party have said they will not vote in favor of Pierluisi, in part because he works as for a law firm that represents the federal control board overseeing Puerto Rico’s finances.

“That’s a serious conflict of interest,” Meléndez said.

Pedro Pierluisi seen Jan. 15, 2013. Getty

Pierluisi, who could not be immediately reached for comment, took a leave of absence starting Tuesday, according to his law firm’s website.

In a recent tweet, Pierluisi said the firm’s rules did not allow him to speak or grant interviews.

Puerto Rico “is living unprecedented moments, but I trust we will come out ahead,” he wrote. “My commitment to (Puerto Rico) and my people is firm as always.”

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