House speaker of Puerto Rico resigns post under pressure

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — The speaker of the Chamber of Deputies in Puerto Rico resigned from the leadership post Monday under pressure from officials in his party following court testimony that has linked him to a former fundraiser convicted in a political corruption case.

Jaime Perello said he was resigning as speaker because he did not want to be used as an “excuse” if his Popular Democratic Party lost control of the chamber in the November elections. He plans to retain his at-large seat in the lower house of the legislature in the U.S. island territory.

“I have not committed any illegal act and nobody has accused me of anything,” Perello said as he announced his decision. “But there are causes that are greater than mine and bigger than me. I will never allow evil to triumph over good.”

Perello was elected in 2008 and became speaker in 2012 after the Popular Democratic Party took control of the chamber.

He came under pressure in recent days to resign from the party’s candidate for governor, David Bernier, and others following testimony from the former fundraiser against other government officials in a federal corruption trial that is underway in the territory.

The former fundraiser, Anaudi Hernandez, has said at least three officials under Perello’s supervision took part in the alleged steering of government contracts as political favors.

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