Pedro R. Pierluisi Urrutia (born April 26, 1959) is a Puerto Rican lawyer and politician affiliated with the New Progressive Party of Puerto Rico (PNP) and the United States Democratic Party. He is the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico to the United States Congress, having won the November 4, 2008 general election.
Education and private life
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 Baltasar Corrada del Rio.
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. He is married to María Elena Carrión, president of Multicultural Ventures LLC and has three sons, Anthony, Michael,and Rafael, and one daughter, Jacqueline.
Secretary of Justice
In 1993, recently elected Governor of Puerto Rico Pedro Rosselló appointed Pierluisi Secretary of Justice (Attorney General) of his new administration. The Senate of Puerto Rico unanimously confirmed him. As Secretary, Pierluisi presided over 500 prosecutors and recruited 50 additional prosecutors for the Puerto Rico Department of Justice, increased level of criminal convictions in court, increased prosecution of cases referred by the Office of the Puerto Rico Controller, and increased referrals to the Puerto Rico Special Independent Prosecutor.
In 1994, Pierluisi worked with President Bill Clinton's administration in promoting what eventually became the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. Pierluisi's own brother, José Jaime Pierluisi, also an economic productivity advisor to Governor Rosselló, was murdered during a carjacking outside his home on June 7, 1994.
Crime Prevention and Security became the administration's top priority, and Pierluisi intensely lobbied in Congress for specialized funds towards the fight against crime. On November 2, 1994, Pierluisi and the Rosselló Administration achieved Puerto Rico's designation as the United States' seventh High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), which enabled Puerto Rico to receive millions of dollars in funding to stem drug trafficking in Puerto Rico. He also served as Vice President of the Interagency Office of HIDTA. He was also active in the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) and was elected Chair of the organization's Eastern Region in 1996.
Pierluisi served as Secretary of Justice until the end of Governor Rosselló's first term.
Pierluisi returned to private practice in 1997 as a partner in the prestigious Puerto Rico law firm O'Neill & Borges. At O'Neill & Borges, Pierluisi's practice concentrated in complex commercial and construction litigation, alternative dispute resolution and legislative and regulatory affairs. In addition, he served as Director of the University of Puerto Rico Foundation (1997–2001) and Director of the Puerto Rico Homebuilders Association (1993–2003). Pierluisi also worked as Director of the José Jaime Pierluisi Foundation, dedicated to the memory of his slain brother, and was its president from 2003-2006. He also worked as an arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association's International Centre for Dispute Resolution and for the New York Stock Exchange during this time.
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 Nov. 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 runningmate, Luis Fortuño, also won the NPP nomination for governor with nearly 60% of primary votes.
Pedro Pierluisi endorsed Illinois Senator Barack Obama to the Democratic Party nomination for President of the United States. He served as co-chair of Obama's campaign in Puerto Rico.
Service in the House of Representatives
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.
Congressman Pierluisi is a member of the New Progressive Party in Puerto Rico which advocates statehood for the Island territory. He and 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. Pedro Pierluisi is a member of the Democratic Party and Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner. He is the sole representative in Congress of the four 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.
US Congressional Delegation at the 5th Summit of the Americas
Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi represented Puerto Rico as part of the US Congressional Delegation at the 5th Summit of the Americas. As part of their agenda, the Congressional delegation will hold a meeting with President Barack Obama. Additionally, Congressman Pierluisi also had the opportunity to meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "The vast majority of Puerto Ricans cherish their citizenship and their relationship with the United States, they appreciate that I am here as part of the U.S. delegation, and they have no doubts whatsoever that their interests go hand in hand with the interests of their fellow Americans before the international organizations," said Congressman Pierluisi.
In the midst of a hearing attended by the US Congressional Delegation, the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) Jose Miguel Insulza, and about other 50 foreign dignitaries and diplomats, Congressman Pierluisi expressed pride in being Puerto Rico’s sole representative. The Congressional Delegation, including Congressman Pierluisi, had the opportunity to meet with the presidents of various Latin American Countries. Among the dignitaries with whom they met were the President of El Salvador, Elias Antonio Saca, President-elect of El Salvador, Mauricio Funes, and the President of Panama, Martin Torrijos.
Additionally, Congressman Pierluisi held separate meetings with the President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet; the President of Uruguay, Tabaré Vázquez; the President of Honduras Manuel Zelaya; the President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa; the President of Haiti, Rene Preval; the President of Paraguay Fernando Lugo; and the President of Mexico, Felipe Calderon.
Pierluisi also had informal talks with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom. On March 21, 2011, it was revealed that Pedro Pierluisi claimed $2.1 million in expenses, topping House Speaker Nancy Pelosi by $257,000, according to a report issued Monday by the Sunlight Foundation, which promotes government transparency.
February 6th, 2012