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|Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico|
January 3, 2009 – January 3, 2017
|Preceded by||Luis Fortuño|
|Succeeded by||Jenniffer González|
|Secretary of Justice of Puerto Rico|
January 2, 1993 – January 1997
|Preceded by||Héctor Rivera Cruz|
|Succeeded by||José Fuentes Agostini|
Pedro Rafael Pierluisi Urrutia
April 26, 1959
San Juan, Puerto Rico, U.S.
|Political party||New Progressive|
|Education||Tulane University (BA)|
George Washington University (JD)
Pedro Rafael Pierluisi Urrutia[a][b] (born April 26, 1959) is an attorney who was the 19th Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico from 2009 to 2017. In this capacity, Pierluisi served as a member of the United States House of Representatives and as the only delegate that represents all U.S. citizens residing on the island. His constituency encompassed about 3.3 million people and, unlike most others, belongs to an at-large congressional district that covers his entire domicile rather than a subdivision of it. Pierluisi's rights and privileges differed from other congressmen as well, as he is denied a vote on the final disposition of all legislations on the House floor because of his designation as resident commissioner. Still, save for that exception, he exercised his functions like that of any other congressman. He has Italian ancestry.
Ideologically, Pierluisi is affiliated with two parties: one within Puerto Rico and another within the United States as a whole. Within Puerto Rico, he is affiliated with the New Progressive Party (PNP in Spanish)—a party that advocates for Puerto Rico to become a state of the United States and that is composed of both Democrats and Republicans. He has also been serving as the party's president since 2013 and will be competing for the party's candidacy for governor during primaries. Outside domestic politics, Pierluisi is a member of the Democratic Party of the United States, as well as being a staunch supporter of President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
As a congressman, Pierluisi focused almost all of his efforts on bills related to Puerto Rico. On this matter, Pierluisi fiercely advocated for two bills. In the first, H.R. 2499, Pierluisi sought to provide for plebiscites to be held in Puerto Rico to determine the island's ultimate political status. He managed to get the bill approved by the House but not by the Senate—a failure that led to the bill's death after the sine die adjournment of the 111th Congress. In the second bill, H.R. 870, Pierluisi sought to include Puerto Rico in Chapter 9 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code so that the island's government-owned corporations could file for bankruptcy—a privilege they do not enjoy as they are excluded from the code. Due to this exclusion, Pierluisi proposed the bill as a fallback against the Puerto Rican government-debt crisis which threatens local agencies that are unable to restructure their debt within the aforementioned legal framework. He continues to advocate for Puerto Rico to be included in said framework, with both Democrats and Republicans supporting his cause but with reservations.
Before his service in Congress, Pierluisi worked in the private and public sectors as an accomplished litigator. One of his most prominent accomplishments was serving as one of the lead attorneys representing the government of Perú in a lawsuit regarding the trade of silver. In that case, his client was awarded $180 million USD in damages. Another accomplishment was being appointed Attorney General of Puerto Rico. In that role, Pierluisi argued two landmark constitutional law cases before the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico. Afterwards, he practiced law privately for ten years to then return to public service in 2009. At that time, he was elected to his current post, in which he has served for the past ten consecutive years.
Early life and education
Pierluisi was born in 1959 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He attended Colegio Marista of Guaynabo, graduating in 1977. In 1981, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in American History from Tulane University, and later earned a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from George Washington University Law School in 1984. He was President of the Puerto Rico Statehood Students Association chapter at Tulane University. Later, he was President of the George Washington University International Law Society from 1982–1983. During his studies at George Washington University, Pierluisi interned at the congressional office of then Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico Baltasar Corrada del Río.
Pierluisi first practiced law as a private attorney in Washington, D.C. from 1984 until 1990. Notably, Mr. Pierluisi was one of the lead attorneys representing the government of Peru in its lawsuit against the Hunt brothers for trying to corner the silver market in the late 1970s. The lawsuit resulted in a $180 million damages award for the plaintiff. He then practiced law in Puerto Rico from 1990 until 1993.
On May 18, 2007, Pierluisi announced his candidacy for Resident Commissioner, Puerto Rico's sole delegate to the United States Congress in the November 2008 elections. He accompanied then current Resident Commissioner and gubernatorial candidate Luis Fortuño in the March 9, 2008 NPP primary ticket. Fortuño was a classmate at Colegio Marista, a fellow founding member of the Puerto Rico Statehood Students Association in 1979, and also a fellow cabinet member of Pierluisi's during Governor Rosselló's first term from 1993–1996.
According to the candidate reports filed before the Federal Elections Commission (FEC), Pierluisi led the other NPP candidates by a ten-to-one margin in fundraising, having raised over $450,000 in 2007, while opponent Charlie Rodriguez had only raised $47,000 and Dr. Miriam Ramírez de Ferrer had not reported any fundraising. He also leads in fundraising among the four candidates to succeed Resident Commissioner Fortuño in the November 4, 2008 general election.
On March 9, 2008, Pierluisi won the primary with 61% of the vote against former Senate President Charlie Rodriguez, who polled 33%, and former Sen. Miriam Ramírez, who obtained 6% of the vote. Pierluisi's running mate, Luis Fortuño, also won the NPP nomination for governor with nearly 60% of primary votes.
On November 4, 2008, he won the post of Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico with over 53% of the vote. He was sworn in on January 6, 2009 by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He was the top vote-getter in the 2012 general elections, when he was reelected to a second four-year term and outpolled his running-mate, then Gov. Luis Fortuño as well as current Gov. Alejandro García Padilla. He now has more seniority in the House than the congressman who is 254th on the list of seniority.
Congressman Pierluisi is a member of the New Progressive Party in Puerto Rico which advocates statehood for the Island territory. He and former Governor Luis Fortuño, both of the New Progressive Party, obtained the largest margin of victory in Puerto Rico in the past 44 years garnering a mandate of over one million votes. While on Capitol Hill, Pierluisi caucuses with the Democratic Party. He is the sole representative in Congress of the 3.7 million American citizens who reside on the Island.
On May 19, 2009, Pierluisi filed HR 2499, a bill to provide for a two-tiered referendum in Puerto Rico to allow Puerto Ricans to express their opinion regarding Puerto Rico's ultimate political status. The bill's 90 original co-sponsors exceeds the 80 original co-sponsors in HR 900, filed by his predecessor, Luis Fortuño. HR 2499 passed the house on April 30, 2010 with a vote of 223–169. Since then, in a political status plebiscite held on November 6, 2012, Puerto Rico's voters, with 54% of the vote, expressed their desire to change the island's political status. Of those expressing an alternate status, 61% supported statehood for Puerto Rico. On May 15, 2013, Pierluisi filed HR 2000, a bill to admit Puerto Rico as a state.
- Committee on Ethics
- Committee on the Judiciary
- Committee on Natural Resources
- Congressional Arts Caucus
- Congressional Hispanic Caucus
Accusations of conflicts of interest
In April 2016, while legislation to deal with Puerto Rico's fiscal crisis was being discussed in the House of Representatives, The New York Times published an article covering possible conflicts of interest from Pierluisi's part. The article covers various corporate clients from Pierluisi's wife personal firm who would benefit directly from bills proposed by Pierluisi, specifically those amending Chapter 9 of the Federal Bankruptcy Code. These firms had recently invested in Puerto Rican bonds. In addition, the newspaper established that Pierluisi's wife founded the firm shortly after Pierluisi was sworn into Congress in 2009. In the 8 years since he was elected to as resident commissioner, Pierluisi's average net worth had increased 27-fold.[relevant? ]
Pierluisi is married to María Elena Carrión, an executive, investment manager, and entrepreneur. He also had a previous marriage with whom he has three sons, Anthony, Michael, and Rafael, and one daughter, Jacqueline. One of his sons, Michael Pierluisi, is the current Secretary of Consumer Affairs of Puerto Rico.
- "Busca auxilio federal". Primera Hora (in Spanish). January 7, 2009. Retrieved September 2, 2013.
- "Free Hosting Account Suspended - x10hosting". Statehoodpr.org. Archived from the original on 2008-03-27. Retrieved 2016-04-28.
- FEC 2007–2008 Cycle (2008-06-11). "Pedro Pierluisi Total Receipts". FEC. Retrieved 2008-06-11.
- "Primarias 2008 Escrutinio PNP". 22.214.171.124. Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2016-04-28.
- Newlin, Eliza. Res. Com. Pedro Pierluisi (D-PR, At-Large) – The Almanac of American Politics. Nationaljournal.com. Retrieved on 2012-11-22.
- Garcia, Steve (2009-07-20). Steve Garcia: Puerto Rico's Path To Statehood. Huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved on 2012-11-22.
- Home – El Nuevo Día. Elnuevodia.com (2010-03-31). Retrieved on 2012-11-22.
- – Puerto Rico Report. PuertoRicoReport.com (2013-05-15). Retrieved on 2013-05-13.
- "Puerto Rico's Prosperous D.C. Power Couple". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-04-28.
- Delgado, José (June 6, 2011). "Gitana la esposa de Pedro Pierluisi". El Nuevo Día (in Spanish). Retrieved September 2, 2013.
- "Rosselló coloca a un hijo de Pedro Pierluisi en su gabinete". 12 December 2016. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Congressman Pedro Pierluisi official U.S. House website
- Pedro Pierluisi for Congress (Spanish) official campaign website
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Profile at Vote Smart
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
Héctor Rivera Cruz
| Secretary of Justice of Puerto Rico
José Fuentes Agostini
|U.S. House of Representatives|
| Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico
|Party political offices|
| Chair of the Puerto Rico New Progressive Party