17 Feb 2011

American Samoa grant controversy fuels leadership speculation

4:31 pm on 17 February 2011

A public spat between American Samoa's Governor, Togiola Tulafono, and the territory's member of the US Congress over federal assistance is fuelling speculation of a future leadership challenge.

Congressman Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin visited the territory last week and told lawmakers federal grants from the past five years totalled one billion US dollars.

But the Governor is seeking further assistance and has written to the Fono calling the Congressman a rogue delegate.

Our correspondent Monica Miller says the Governor seems to have misinterpreted the Congressman about how federal funds can be spent.

"This is almost like saying you know 'you should break the law' because you can't use federal grants for purposes other than what they were approved for. The other thing is that is behind all this, there are some people who say that the reason why there's a big rift between the two is because the Governor may have intentions of running against Congressman Faleomavaega."

Monica Miller says the public is tired of hearing the two leaders bicker especially when there are urgent economic problems.