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Pedro Rafael Pierluisi Urrutia[b] (born April 26, 1959) is a Puerto Rican attorney, lobbyist,[2] and politician who served as de facto governor of Puerto Rico from August 2 to August 7, 2019, when the territory's Supreme Court ruled his assumption of office was unconstitutional.[3]

Pedro Pierluisi
De facto Governor of Puerto Rico
In office
August 2, 2019 – August 7, 2019[a]
Preceded byRicardo Rosselló
Succeeded byWanda Vázquez Garced
Acting Secretary of State of Puerto Rico
In office
July 31, 2019 – August 2, 2019
GovernorRicardo Rosselló
Preceded byLuis Rivera Marín
Succeeded byVacant
Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico
In office
January 3, 2009 – January 3, 2017
Preceded byLuis Fortuño
Succeeded byJenniffer González
Secretary of Justice of Puerto Rico
In office
January 2, 1993 – January 2, 1997
GovernorPedro Rosselló
Preceded byHéctor Rivera Cruz
Succeeded byJosé Fuentes Agostini
Personal details
Pedro Rafael Pierluisi Urrutia

(1959-04-26) April 26, 1959 (age 60)
San Juan, Puerto Rico, U.S.
Political partyNew Progressive
Other political
Spouse(s)María Carrión (Divorced)
RelationsJosé Jaime Pierluisi (brother)
José Carrión III (brother-in-law)
EducationTulane University (BA)
George Washington University (JD)

He served as the Secretary of Justice of Puerto Rico in the 1990s, as well as served as the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico in 2009–2017 in the Congress. Before serving in Congress, Pierluisi worked in the private and public sectors as a lobbyist. Pierluisi, a member of New Progressive and the national Democratic Party was appointed the acting Secretary of State of Puerto Rico in July 2019, and assumed the office of governor on August 2, 2019 upon the resignation of Ricardo Rosselló.[4] Pierluisi stated that if the Senate of Puerto Rico didn't confirm or validate his position as former Secretary of State, he would resign the governorship.[5] However, he subsequently walked back that statement. On August 5, 2019, the Puerto Rico Senate filed a lawsuit against his appointment as governor.[6][7] Two days later, the Puerto Rico Supreme Court ruled that Pierluisi was sworn in on unconstitutional grounds and removed him from office, effective 5 p.m. AST on August 7, to be replaced by Wanda Vázquez Garced, the Secretary of Justice.[8][9]

Early life and educationEdit

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.[10] Later, he was President of the George Washington University International Law Society from 1982–1983.[citation needed] During his studies at George Washington University, Pierluisi interned at the congressional office of then-Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico Baltasar Corrada del Río.[citation needed].

Early careerEdit

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, Nelson Bunker, William Herbert, and Lamar 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.[citation needed]

In 1993, Governor Pedro Rossello nominated Pierluisi to serve as Puerto Rico's Secretary of State. His nomination was unanimously confirmed by the Puerto Rican legislature.

U.S. House of RepresentativesEdit

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.[citation needed]

According to the candidate reports filed before the Federal Elections Commission (FEC),[11] 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.[citation needed]

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.[12]

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 had more seniority in the House than the congressman who is 254th on the list of seniority.

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, beat their rivals by over one million votes - the largest margin of victory for a Resident Commissioner in Puerto Rico's history. While on Capitol Hill, Pierluisi caucused with the House Democratic Caucus.[13] He was the sole representative in Congress of the 3.7 million American citizens who reside on the Island.[citation needed]

As Resident Commissioner, Pierluisi focused most of his congressional efforts on bills related to Puerto Rico. He introduced H.R. 2499, which sought to provide for a plebiscite to be held in Puerto Rico to determine the island's ultimate political status. The bill was passed by the House of Representatives but did not receive a vote in the Senate, and lapsed following the sine die adjournment of the 111th Congress. In a separate bill, H.R. 870, Pierluisi sought to add Puerto Rico to 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 due to the territory's exclusion from the code. The bill was a fallback against the Puerto Rican government-debt crisis, which threatens local agencies that are unable to restructure their debt.[citation needed]

In a move unrelated to H.R. 2499, a political status referendum was held in Puerto Rico on November 6, 2012. 54% of voters expressed their desire for Puerto Rico's political status to be changed. In a separate vote on the same ballot, 61% supported statehood for Puerto Rico. Consequently, on May 15, 2013, Pierluisi filed H.R. 2000, a bill to admit Puerto Rico as a state.[14]

Committee assignmentsEdit

Caucus membershipsEdit

Accusations of conflicts of interestEdit

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 involving Pierluisi.[15] 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 resident commissioner, Pierluisi's average net worth had increased 27-fold.[16][17]

Governor of Puerto RicoEdit

2016 gubernatorial campaignEdit

On June 5, 2016, Pierluisi lost the New Progressive Party primary against Ricardo Rosselló.[18]


On July 30, 2019, local media in Puerto Rico reported that the embattled governor, Ricardo Rosselló, nominated Pierluisi to serve as Secretary of State of Puerto Rico. He was additionally sworn into the role as a recess appointment on July 31, 2019. Governor Rosselló then summoned Puerto Rico's Congress for them to issue their advice and consent. The House of Representatives approved his nomination 26-21.[19] However, the following day, members of the Puerto Rican Senate announced that action on his nomination would not occur before August 1, 2019. Upon Rosselló's resignation on August 2, 2019, Rosselló declared Pierluisi governor despite not having been confirmed by both the House and Senate as secretary of state, and Pierluisi affirmed Rosselló's declaration. Pierluisi's accession to the governorship was challenged in the courts as being unconstitutional.[20] On August 5, 2019, the Puerto Rico Senate filed a lawsuit against his appointment as Governor contending that unless he obtains the Senate's assent, his governorship is illegitimate.[6][7] Two days later, the Puerto Rico Supreme Court ruled that Pierluisi was sworn in on unconstitutional grounds and removed him from office, effective 5 p.m. AST on August 7.[8][9]

Accusation of usurpation of powerEdit

On July 31, 2019, in the midst of multiple protests, and with the Legislature of Puerto Rico in recess, Governor Rosselló appointed Pierluisi as Secretary of State to replace Luis Rivera Marin who had resigned from the position.[citation needed]

Thereafter, Rosselló, summoned the Puerto Rico Legislature to an extraordinary session, with the sole purpose of confirming the appointment of Pierluisi as Secretary of State. This request by Governor Rosselló constituted a recognition of the constitutional order, Art. IV, Sec. 5, which required the advice and consent of both legislative bodies, for the confirmation of the Secretary of State. As of the appointment, the nominee Pierluisi said "I am available for the confirmation process required by our Constitution, giving the greatest deference to our Legislative bodies, to provide their advice and consent." [21]

On Friday, August 2, 2019, the Puerto Rico House of Representatives held a public hearing with Pierluisi, and as a result, the House voted in favor and confirmed Pierluisi as Secretary of State. With this, the process of advice and consent was partially carried out, since the same was still pending to be concluded by the Senate of Puerto Rico. Immediately upon his partial confirmation as Secretary of State, and following the resignation of Governor Ricardo Rosselló on August 2, 2019, Pierluisi was sworn-in as Governor of Puerto Rico. Pierluisi relied on an incorrect interpretation of Puerto Rico Statute No. 7-2005 (Law 7-2005), called in short Law for Succession of the Governor.[22]

As he was sworn in as governor without having completed the constitutional process of legislative advice and consent, Governor Pierluisi conscious of having missed that step, held a press conference at La Fortaleza, and when asked by a reporter whether he would resign as governor if he were not confirmed by the Senate of Puerto Rico, he responded: “If they do not ratify my position, then the Secretary of Justice, with whom I have contact, is in full readiness to assume the position of governor".[23][24]

The Senate of Puerto Rico, on August 4, 2019 filed a legal complaint at the Puerto Rico State Court, seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction since according to the Constitution of Puerto Rico, for Pierluisi to become governor, he had to occupy the position of Secretary of State with the entire advice and consent of Puerto Rico's legislative bodies, before the resignation of Rosselló.[citation needed]

Since the Senate of Puerto Rico has not yet confirmed Pierluisi's appointment, it is thought that, from a legal standpoint, Pierluisi cannot continue in office as Governor, and that he was unconstitutionally sworn in as governor on August 2, 2019. Multiple scholars agree with this position, including constitutional expert and professor at the University of Puerto Rico, Jose Julian Alvarez Gonzalez, who compared the succession to that a monarchy. [25] Similarly, the Puerto Rico Bar Association contends that the swearing in of Pierluisi as Governor is a sequestration of the Constitution. [26]

Personal lifeEdit

Pierluisi is currently undergoing a divorce proceeding from his former wife María Elena Carrión, an executive, investment manager, and entrepreneur.[27] He also had a previous marriage from which he has three sons, Anthony, Michael, and Rafael, and one daughter, Jacqueline.[28] One of his sons, Michael Pierluisi, was the Secretary of Consumer Affairs of Puerto Rico until June 2019.[29]

Pierluisi's father, Jorge Pierluisi, served as Secretary of Puerto Rico's Housing Department under Gov. Carlos Romero Barceló from 1977 to 1985. His brother, José Jaime Pierluisi, an economic adviser to then governor Pedro Rossello, was shot and killed during a carjacking in 1994.[30]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Pierluisi was removed on August 7, 2019, via quo warranto. Hence, his tenure is now considered only de facto.
  2. ^ Primera Hora (2009) "El nuevo comisionado residente en Washington, Pedro Rafael Pierluisi Urrutia..."[1]


  1. ^ "Busca auxilio federal". Primera Hora (in Spanish). January 7, 2009. Retrieved September 2, 2013.
  2. ^ "Senado Registro de Cabilderos". (in Spanish). Retrieved 2019-08-03.
  3. ^ "Portal de la Rama Judicial de Puerto Rico". Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  4. ^ Clark, Bill (August 1, 2019). "Puerto Rico Legislature delays vote on Pedro Pierluisi, possible successor to governor". NBC News. Retrieved August 1, 2019.
  5. ^ "Pierluisi comienza a atar cabos con jefes de agencias". Noticel. August 3, 2019. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  6. ^ a b Swanson, Ian (August 5, 2019). "Puerto Rico Senate sues to oust new governor". TheHill.
  7. ^ a b "Puerto Rico: Senate says new governor is illegitimate".
  8. ^ a b DÁNICA COTO (August 7, 2019). "Puerto Rico High Court Overturns Pedro Pierluisi as Governor". Bloomberg News. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS.
  9. ^ a b Mazzei, Patricia; Robles, Frances (2019-08-07). "Puerto Rico Supreme Court Rules New Governor Was Unlawfully Sworn In". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  10. ^ "Free Hosting Account Suspended - x10hosting". Archived from the original on 2008-03-27. Retrieved 2016-04-28. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  11. ^ FEC 2007–2008 Cycle (2008-06-11). "Pedro Pierluisi Total Receipts". FEC. Retrieved 2008-06-11.
  12. ^ "Primarias 2008 Escrutinio PNP". Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2016-04-28. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  13. ^ Newlin, Eliza. Res. Com. Pedro Pierluisi (D-PR, At-Large) – The Almanac of American Politics. Retrieved on 2012-11-22.
  14. ^ – Puerto Rico Report. (2013-05-15). Retrieved on 2013-05-13.
  15. ^ "Puerto Rico's Prosperous D.C. Power Couple". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-04-28.
  16. ^ "Puerto Rico rep in D.C. profiting from wife's Wall Street ties".
  17. ^ "THESE are the Puerto Ricans who owe $72 billion to the United States…and THEY should pay it". July 7, 2016.
  18. ^ Caro González, Leysa. "Rosselló prueba la victoria". El Nuevo Dia (in Spanish). Retrieved June 5, 2016.
  19. ^ Press, Associated. "Puerto Rico governor resigns as promised; successor sworn in". POLITICO.
  20. ^ "Pedro Pierluisi was sworn in as Puerto Rico's governor. His opponents are still questioning his legitimacy". CNN. August 2, 2019. Retrieved August 2, 2019.
  21. ^ 2508969/ "Pierluisi acepta nominación de Rosselló a la secretaría de Estado" Check |url= value (help). 2019-07-31.
  22. ^ Fortaleza, La (August 2, 2019). "Compartimos fotos oficiales de la juramentación del gobernador @PRPierluisi y sus declaraciones durante la tarde de".
  23. ^ "Primera conferencia de Pierluisi como gobernador - Telemundo Puerto Rico".
  24. ^ Robles, Frances; Mazzei, Patricia (August 2, 2019). "Ricardo Rosselló Steps Down as Puerto Rico's Governor, and Pedro Pierluisi Is Sworn In". The New York Times.
  25. ^ "A las 4:59 de la tarde". El Nuevo Dia. August 4, 2019.
  26. ^ Claudio, Ronald Ávila. "Colegio de Abogados cataloga como secuestro de la Constitución juramentación de Pierluisi". Metro.
  27. ^ "Pedro Pierluisi confirma que atraviesa proceso de divorcio". Telemundo. August 3, 2019.
  28. ^ Delgado, José (June 6, 2011). "Gitana la esposa de Pedro Pierluisi". El Nuevo Día (in Spanish). Retrieved September 2, 2013.
  29. ^ "Rosselló coloca a un hijo de Pedro Pierluisi en su gabinete". 12 December 2016. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  30. ^ "Jose Jaime Pierluisi, 28, an Aide To Puerto Rico Governor, Dies". The New York Times. June 11, 1994.

External linksEdit