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Vote Has Puerto Rican Party in Debt

March 10, 1999

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) _ The Puerto Rican governor’s failed campaign for U.S. statehood has left his party $3.2 million in debt, a newspaper reported Wednesday.

Documents filed with the State Elections Commission show the New Progressive Party’s debt doubled from November to December as bills from the party’s television advertising campaign came due, the San Juan Star reported.

Gov. Pedro Rossello, who wants the U.S. Caribbean territory to become the 51st state, called the non-binding vote for Dec. 13. Puerto Ricans were asked to choose between U.S. statehood, independence, independence with vaguely defined ``free association″ ties or continued commonwealth.

The pro-commonwealth Popular Democratic Party had a $821,279 debt at the end of December, but finance director Jaime Alsina Beveraggi said the party is still unsure how much it spent on the campaign for the referendum.

The Puerto Rican Independence party was $87,857 in debt.

A government electoral fund gave $625,000 to all of the parties except the Popular Democratic Party, which advocated a ``none of the above″ protest vote because it believed the ballot’s wording favored statehood.

The protest vote won with 50.3 percent, while statehood got 46.5 percent and independence, 2.5 percent.

Campaigns for Puerto Rican general elections have a $5.5 million spending cap, but there were no spending limits for the referendum campaigns.

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