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Frmr. Guam Congressman and (ret.) USMC Gen. Ben Blaz, Interior Deputy Assistant Secretary Papaliitele David Cohen chat with Aumua Amata

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Amata Aumua and Ireland's Prime Minister Bertie Ahern. At the White House Shamrock Ceremony, Ahern presented the Irish shamrock to President Bush to symbolize in a very special way the bonds between the Irish and American people. Following the ceremony the White House held a reception with an elaborate spread of food and drink to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day 2007. Said Amata, "Speaking as a proud Samoan with a wee bit of Irish heritage, it was truly an honor and I thank the President for including me."


Press Releases

Aumua Amata's Campaign for Congress Names Grassroots Leadership

September 23, 2008
Reprinted from Samoa News

The Hon. Senator Salanoa Soli Aumoeualogo, Chairman of Friends of Amata For Congress, announced the campaign's executive committee approved the selection of chairpersons for each of the territory's 17 electoral districts during a committee meeting chaired by Campaign Manager Oloipola Herman Gebauer, last Saturday.

The group selected the following individuals to manage Amata's campaign at the grassroots level:

District 1-Lealofiamoa Imo Ale Filoialii, District 2-Howard Molipe, District 3-Konelila Tagoilelagi, District 4-Toma Keresoma, District 5-Tuitafagagai Ah Kiong; Mataala Sala, District 6-Amata Aiava; Tasileta Ioane, District 7-Canton Fano, District 8-Sabrina Leaupepe, District 9-Paulava Malala; P. Lauama, District 10-Richard Reid; Cecilia Scanlan Reid, District 11-Danny Pau, District 12-Reno Vivao; Tau Maugalei, District 13-Joan Petelo, District 14-Tai Loe; Folole Kereti, District 15-Paratiso & Jocelyn Utupo; Wilmamina Tuliloa, District 16-Tigafua Fuatagavi, and District 17-Malia Lea'e.

"We are very, very pleased these kind people have come forward to help this year," said Salanoa. "They are the heart of our campaign."

The district chairs will be responsible for managing the work of campaign coordinators in the various villages in their districts and for recruiting poll workers for Election Day and will soon be undertaking an initial vote canvass across the Territory.


"Even though many of our district chairs have played this role in earlier campaigns," continued Salanoa, "it is really exciting that there are a quite a number of people who have stepped forward who are new Amata supporters this year for the first time."

Volunteers who want to help Amata's campaign are asked to call Oloipola Herman Gebauer at (684) 258-2962 or Aumua Amata at (684) 258-8376.

Reach the reporters at news.newsroom@samoatelco.com.

Osini Faleatasi Inc. dba Samoa News reserves all rights.


Aumua Amata sets the record straight on Faleomavaega's "Secret Amendment"

September 10, 2008

Aumua Amata today responded to Faleomavaega's personal attacks on her family and set the record straight on his 'Secret Amendment'.

"Because Delegate Faleomavaega's Sept. 3 response to my guest editorial is so filled with distortions, misinformation and personal attacks, I am not even going to attempt to respond to it. As I have said previously, I do not intend to be drawn into his battle with our fishermen over the substance of his secret amendment before the U.S. Senate. However, through the pages of your newspaper, he has invited me to explain what role I have played in the controversy over his fishing fleet bill, so through your pages I am happy to set the record straight once and for all.

Last September, I took a trip to Hawaii and Southern California for a series of meetings, conferences and events on which I reported in an essay published in Samoa News upon my return. While in San Diego, I made time to pay a courtesy call on tunaboat owners there to learn more about their issues and for the same purpose also had a separate breakfast with former U.S. Tuna Foundation CEO David Burney and former Chicken of the Sea CEO Jose Munoz. Although HR 3669 must have been in the works at that point, it did not arise in my meetings, perhaps because it had not yet been introduced. Some months after I returned to Pago, I was contacted by some of the fishermen with whom I had met, because by then the bill had been incorporated into the Coast Guard reauthorization bill and passed the House. The fishermen wanted help to explain their concerns to Congress before it passed the Senate.

Since I am in American Samoa, not Washington, I asked my husband Fred Radewagen who is in Washington to help the fishermen find someone to represent them before Congress, which he did. Once he contacted someone with fisheries expertise, he put them together with the fishermen and has had no involvement in lobbying the bill. My husband is not a lobbyist by profession nor is he a registered lobbyist on this issue. He has made no formal or informal contacts with anyone in Government on this issue, either in the Executive Branch or in Congress.

I invite Faleomavaega to produce any evidence he has that my husband is "secretly working to undermine the work of American Samoa's elected leaders." Does he have a copy of a lobbying registration? Can he produce a statement from even a single Member of the House or Senate or their staffs who will state that they have been contacted by him? If not, it is irresponsible for him to make such allegations and it's regrettable Samoa News would publish them without substantiation.

I am a public figure running for Congress and Faleomavaega is free to make all the allegations and personal attacks he wants against me. I am happy to defend myself. However, neither his wife Hinanui nor my husband Fred is a public figure and neither lives in American Samoa. I would never consider trying to make his spouse a campaign issue nor should he attempt to make mine an issue. In response to his charges, I now have stated for a second time that my husband has no role in lobbying on Faleomavaega's secret amendment. The first time he made his allegation I gave him the benefit of the doubt by choosing to believe he was misinformed and inadvertently misinformed the public. If he repeats his allegations without producing any proof, he is purposely lying."

/s/ AUMUA AMATA


Election Coverage 2008

Aumua Amata names Chairman Sen. Salanoa Soli Aumoeualogo and others in key compaign leadership posts

by Fili Sagapolutele
Samoa News Correspondent

August 28, 2008

Aumua Amata has selected Senator Salanoa Soli Aumoeualogo, to serve as her campaign chairman, naming several others to key leadership posts in her campaign committee.

Newly named committee leaders include Campaign Manager Oloipola Herman Gebauer; Finance Chair Sherry Shalhout Butler of Tafuna; Campaign Secretary Joan Petelo of Leone and Leon Malaulu of Nuuuli who will serve as on-island treasurer, working with Michael Usle, who has responsibility for handling Federal financial filing requirements. Salanoa, who has been a Senator since January 2005, says he believes Amata is the best candidate to help local residents in Washington at this critical time in American Samoa history.

"She is well connected and well regarded on both sides of the aisle and has an agenda that is our people's agenda: issues that are of direct importance to the territory," said Salanoa, who chairs the Senate Rules Committee. "The people understand her focus on our issues, especially improvement of our health care and education system and economic expansion. That is why she consistently has had such strong support in my District over the years."

Butler, who runs Deluxe Cafe said, "I have watched enthusiasm build for Amata's leadership over the years...she has become a real role model for our women and the young people."

Amata said she is thrilled Gebauer, a retired COS Samoa Packing general manager, has agreed to manage her campaign.

"I am humbled to have Senator Salanoa, Sherry, Oloipola, Joanie and Leon take on these roles. And I am grateful my federal Treasurer Mike Usle is continuing his long time role working with the Federal Election Commission," she said.

Aumua Amata and her committee leadership are in the process of finalizing the appointment of district chairs for each of American Samoa's electoral districts and will announce their names soon.


"The Secret Amendment"

Reprinted from Samoa News
August 22, 2008

Guest Editorial by Aumua Amata

First, I want to commend the media, particularly Samoa News, for fully covering the debate between Faleomavaega and the Pago Pago-based fishermen over his bill in Congress regulating foreign-built purse seiners.

I have been watching from the sidelines with great interest and have not spoken publicly because, as I told members of the U.S. Tunaboat Owners Coalition, I believe this is a legislative issue that should be decided on its merits not a political issue to be used as a football in an election campaign. That is why they engaged a representative in Washington to make their case to Congress.

Since I have not spoken on this issue in the media, addressed it in gatherings around the territory or even taken it up with anyone in Washington, it saddens me that Faleomavaega repeatedly has used this issue as a vehicle for making personal attacks on my family and me. In addition to the boat owners, the Governor and the leaders of the Fono publicly have criticized the Delegate on this issue but in his responses to Joe Finete and Carlos Sanchez, for what can only be described as political reasons he repeatedly chooses to attack my husband Fred and me not them.

Having said that, however, I do want to voice my concern about the process. Faleomavaega's boat bill rightly has been called his "secret amendment." Although his measure was openly proposed, there never were any public hearings or prior consultations with either local leaders or the boat owners, the principal stakeholders in the private sector. A few months later it was quietly incorporated into a larger bill as an amendment and passed the House without fanfare. Curiously, Faleomavaega waited one month before advising the public his bill had passed-only when quick passage in the Senate seemed assured.

But the bill has stalled in the Senate and public debate has ensued. In my view, the debate that has roared in the pages of Samoa News and elsewhere would better have been conducted in committee hearing rooms on Capitol Hill and then reported in Samoa News. That is the way the process was established by the Founding Fathers, the way it has worked for over 200 years and the way it ought to continue to function. In all but the direct emergencies, regular order should be followed, especially on legislation that is specific to American Samoa, not national in nature.

Faleomavaega may continue to try to draw me into the debate on the merits of his bill but I will continue to resist all temptations to take the bait. Congress will adjourn in late September and this bill either will pass on its merits or die with Congress without any help for interference from me. The boat owners are perfectly capable of making their own case.

My overriding concern continues to be with the attempts, often abetted if not led by our own Delegate, to increase federal control over our Territory, which comes at the expense of our hard-won self-government. Whether it be imposition of minimum wage, establishment of a federal court, the method of electing our senate, citizenship, earmarking of CIPs, alteration of our local election procedures or introduction of legislation specific to the Territory without local consultation, the trend is very troublesome. That is a political issue that is worthy of discussion in the campaign.

In his July 17 press release Faleomavaega said: "Regarding Mr. Finete's assertion that I should have consulted with our local leaders before introducing it, I do not expect the Governor and the Fono to consult with me about legislation they introduce locally or how they manage or spend our funds[T]hey answer to the people, not to me. I also answer to the people, and it is up to the people who elected me to decide if I am representing and protecting their interests in the US Congress."

Faleomavaega and I fundamentally disagree on that point. When he is acting in his capacity as a national legislator, he is representing the people. When he is legislating for American Samoa, however, I believe prior consultation is essential.

And that is an issue I intend to raise in this campaign.

In the meantime, I would encourage Samoa News and other media outlets to continue to air fully the debate on the substance of Faleomavaega's secret amendment. It is the only way the public can decide for itself if American Samoa's interests are being harmed or served. I only regret the tone of the debate. I would hope the delegate would focus on the substance of the issue while refraining from personal attacks or characterizing the motives of his adversaries. The dignity of his office needs to be upheld.

© Osini Faleatasi Inc. dba Samoa News reserves all rights.


For Immediate Release
Contact: Press Office (702-466-2998)
Monday, August 18, 2008

McCain 2008 announces Pacific Islands Leadership

HENDERSON, NV - U.S. Senator John McCain's presidential campaign today announced that three veteran Republican leaders will chair John McCain's campaigns for American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. The three jurisdictions together will send 27 delegates to the Republican National Convention, which opens on September 1 in Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN.

American Samoan Republican National Committeewoman Amata Coleman Radewagen will join former Guam Republican Party Chairman David J. Sablan and former Northern Marianas GOP Chairman Joseph C. Reyes to lead grassroots activists who will help organize and coordinate the campaign's grassroots efforts in their territories and will communicate John McCain's message of country first, greater national security, a stronger economy and meaningful government reform.

"John McCain has spent his entire life putting our country above his own personal and political well being," said Amata Radewagen, American Samoa's Chairman, who is sixth in seniority on the RNC. "That is important to Samoans, who are proud to be Americans."

"John McCain's experience and bold, principled leadership garners a great deal of support in Guam and I am proud to support his campaign," said Dave Sablan in accepting his appointment.

"In a period of our history when national security is so important, we need John McCain's tested leadership," said Rep. Joe Reyes, a U.S. Army veteran who currently chairs the commerce and tourism committee in the 16th Northern Marianas Legislature. "By extending his campaign to our islands," continued Reyes, "Senator McCain has demonstrated he cares about us and through the Pacific leadership we will have the mechanism to convey our concerns to his administration."

Reyes and Sablan are proven winners as party leaders, with Republicans in 2001 winning an historic 16 of 18 House seats, control of the Senate, Washington representative and the governorship under Reyes's chairmanship; Sablan followed in 2002 by guiding the Guam GOP to recapture the governorship after eight years of Democrat control. The two men also are successful business leaders in their islands.

A long time community activist and member of numerous civic organizations, Amata also has served at the national level on the President's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and as assistant secretary of the 2000 Republican National Convention. She was 2003 "Woman of the Year" for the National Association of Professional Asian Women and was recipient of the International Leadership Foundation's "Visionary Award" this year.


Pat Boone sings praises of Aumua Amata, other Lawmakers and Candidates

August 08, 2008
Reprinted from Samoa News

PAT BOONE SINGS PRAISES OF LAWMAKERS AND CANDIDATES

Legendary entertainer and 60 Plus Association national spokesman Pat Boone visited Washington, D.C. recently to present various lawmakers and candidates, among them congressional candidate Aumua Amata, with the organization's Honorary Guardian of Seniors' Rights Award.

Aumua Amata is a candidate for American Samoa's non-voting delegate seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. She received the award along with U.S. Senator Wayne Allard (CO), U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (AL) and U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson (SC) in a ceremony near the U.S. Capitol recently.

60 Plus president Jim Martin said, "The Guardian Award is presented to Democrats and Republicans in Congress based on their 'senior friendly' voting records. The Honorary Award is given to those running for office and is based on their views on seniors' issues. We're pleased that Pat Boone took time from his busy schedule to present these citations. I know Aumua Amata was also appreciative. Pat Boone literally sang her praises."

"Aumua Amata is always in the corner of the elderly and for that Pat Boone and I salute her," Martin said.

Amata said she is deeply honored to receive the award and added that "caring for our elders is a fundamental obligation we have as part of our culture and we do it with joy, but I also want to be certain our senior citizens and their families get the full benefits all other Americans receive from the federal government."

"Moreover, families who bear enough financial burdens as it is in caring for their senior members should not be penalized by having to pay an estate tax when they pass on," she added. "I stand with those who oppose such a tax."

The 60 Plus Association is a 15-year-old nonpartisan organization working for death tax repeal, saving Social Security, affordable prescription drugs, lowering energy costs and other issues featuring a less government, less taxes approach.

Reach the reporters at news.newsroom@samoatelco.com.

Osini Faleatasi Inc. dba Samoa News reserves all rights.


Amata's Pacific Notebook: Samoan Youth: Our Future is in good hands

by Aumua Amata

Reprinted from Samoa News

July 19, 2008

This past Sunday I had the honor of being invited by Reverend Aliioaiga Filoialii to be part of his CCCAS Church worship service in Faleniu. My role was to present to the parents of Andrew Pati Ah Young the Mortar Board certificate of induction he received in April on the campus of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

Established in 1918, Mortar Board is a national honor society that recognizes rising college seniors for excellence in the areas of scholarship, leadership and service. Mortar Board members represent the top scholars and leaders on their campuses. In its 90 years of existence, only fewer that a quarter of a million students have been initiated at 226 chartered chapters across the United States representing the top schools in the country.

Mortar Board provides opportunities for continued leadership development, promotes service to colleges and universities and encourages lifelong contributions to the global community. Additionally, Mortar Board offers numerous benefits and opportunities to members, including career networking, fellowships and awards. In short, it is a very prestigious group and we all can be proud that one of our own sons of American Samoa has become a member.

Andrew was valedictorian for the Tafuna High School Class of 2005 and is attending UNM on a Bill Gates Millenium scholarship he told me he found as the result of an application announcement I had publicized in the media that year. Andrew and I have remained in communication since then and by the sheerest of coincidences my husband and I were scheduled to be at a conference in Albuquerque the day he was to receive the award. So he invited us to attend and we gladly did.

As has been my custom over the years, whenever I am traveling to a new city somewhere on the Mainland, I try to find a Samoan community, however small it may be. I usually find that if I can locate one Samoan I can locate the community. Albuquerque was no exception. In the old days it was a matter of the phone book. These days the internet makes life so much easier.

Through a lot of telephoning and exchanges of e-mail messages, we rounded up a nice little group of Samoans, many of whom had not met each other before and following the Mortar Board induction, we brought the Samoan students together with other Samoan adults in the area and also an Asian American group in the area for a nice Chinese buffet dinner.

After dinner, Andrew asked me if I would take his certificate home to American Samoa to give it to his parents for safekeeping. I am glad Reverend Filoialii insisted we make a formal presentation at his church because Andrew's parents so much wanted to be in Albuquerque were unable to do so and I was happy to be able to represent them. So the presentation at the church closed the loop.

As I told Andrew and the other young people at dinner, we are all so very proud of all their accomplishments as they strike out on their own to see what life has to offer. If by bringing all our Samoans together with the Asian American community produces just one valuable and lasting connection, then the whole evening was worthwhile for that reason alone.

By the way, the coincidences did not end in Albuquerque. I was scheduled to head right back to the west coast and Hawaii but HC Su'a and Salote Schuster, who were at the same Albuquerque meeting, suggested I change my reservations and join them over the weekend in Salt Lake City for the General Conference of the LDS church. Although these meetings are held frequently, this one was particularly special because Fonoti Jessop was scheduled to be elevated into the Quorum of Seventy, one of the highest bodies of the Mormon Church worldwide. I could not resist taking an opportunity to witness one of our own respected Samoan leaders be selected for one of the highest offices in his faith.

It was great to see so many well mannered, well dressed Mormon youth attend the General Conference and thanks to Su'a, who is a bishop in the church, I was able to meet many of our Samoan Mormon young people who are living in Utah as well as others who came in for the Conference from other parts of the country.

Since I had to change my reservations to include Salt Lake City, I wound up with extra time in Los Angeles before my return flight to Pago Pago. Through an aiga of mine, I knew her daughter, Falelima Miller, was a student at UCLA and active in the Pacific Islands Students Association (PISA). As luck would have it once again, it just so happened that PISA was having a meeting the evening I was free in Los Angeles. So I went over to the campus to meet with the students.

Although this club is for students whose backgrounds are from anywhere in the Pacific, it seemed to me that Samoans dominated the group�at least the evening I was there. They had a lot of great questions about what was going on back home and seemed genuinely aware of a lot that is happening here in government, politics and the canneries. Thanks to the internet, American Samoa no longer is an isolated island unto itself.

Somehow, I also managed to squeeze in a little business in Washington on this trip and once again coincidentally I just happened to be there when this year's Close Up Foundation group was in the Capital. I had a great couple of hours with those students, many of whom I saw again last month at various high school graduations around the island. I even found one senior at Leone High School who told me he is going to UCLA this fall and I put him right in touch with the PISA members, who will give him a warm welcome to the campus.

The point I want to make here is that from this small slice of young people in Albuquerque, Salt Lake City and Los Angeles, as well as the Close Up kids and all the graduating high school seniors this year who soon will be going off to Hawaii and the Mainland themselves, we all can take pride in our future. I am pleased to report that our Samoan young people can hold their own with anyone in 21st century America. They are getting the education needed to sustain them for the long term and they are leading productive lives in society.

Our job here at home is to redouble our efforts to find ways to tap into that energy and enthusiasm by devising ways to draw our young people back home to put their talents to use here. The raw material is there. We have to harness it. Our future depends on it.


Amata's Pacific Notebook: Attracting attention in Washington

By Aumua Amata

Reprinted from Samoa News

July 23, 2008

Before writing anything else, please let me take this opportunity to greet all our visitors from around the region who are here for the Pacific Arts Festival the next two weeks. I will be working with the Organizing Committee's volunteers so if you spot me during the fest, please come up and say hello. I have a lot of friends from around the region who I hope to be able to see while they are here.

I just got back on island last night myself after a whirlwind week on the West Coast and in our Nation's capital. The primary purpose of my trip was to accept an award from the International Leadership Foundation (ILF) but since the trip is so expensive and not paid by ILF or the government, I could have stayed home and received the award in absentia. However, this award had less to do with me than it did with my lifelong efforts to continue to break down barriers for our people, especially our women.

So, since I was the first Samoan�man or woman--being honored by the foundation, I felt I needed to be there to impress upon them the need to recognize more islanders in the future. Showing up for the award, especially from such a long distance, was meant to encourage them to do just that.

The timing of the gala could not have been better from my standpoint, because it came one day after the annual reception commemorating the World War II Battle of Saipan and the Liberation of Guam. Despite how significant these battles were, both over the years have received relatively less attention in the states than might otherwise have been the case if they had not followed so closely on the heels of D-Day. So, every time there is a key anniversary such as the 25th or 50th, national media attention gets focused on Europe. This observance helps to compensate for that.

So, I commend Guam Congressional Delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo and Northern Marianas Representative Pedro A. Tenorio for continuing to honor a tradition established some years ago to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery to honor those who died in battle. Each year a distinguished Washington dignitary is invited to help the delegates lay the wreath. This year it was Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne that was to do the honors.

Years ago after the ceremony, the guests would go back to Capitol Hill where the Guam delegate would hold a small reception in his office. However, this event has grown over the years to the point it is now one of the three biggest Pacific Island gatherings annually and is greeted with much anticipation. Therefore, the reception has moved from the delegate's office to the cavernous House Caucus Room, which can hold 500 more people and, since it is in the Cannon House Office Building, it is convenient to House members and their staffs. Underwritten now by Guam and CNMI businesses and government agencies, the reception features Chamorro specialty dishes and island entertainers flown in for this purpose.

The evening draws a bigger crowd every year and this year was no exception.

Members of Congress are introduced and are invited to say a few words to the crowd.

Those who took this opportunity included Sen. Dan Inouye (HI), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (MD), Rep. John Lewis (GA), a hero of the Civil Rights Movement, Jeff Flake (AZ), a senior member on the House Insular Subcommittee and, of course, our own delegate, Faleomavaega. Others spoke, too, and still others simply mingled in the crowd. Virtually all of them disappeared to other engagements after a brief time at the party, but that is fine. The main thing is for these important leaders to have exposure to their fellow Americans from the islands that will leave a lasting imprint.

Although I was tired from two straight overnights of air travel, I stayed for most of the reception because I wanted to have the opportunity to get a little additional exposure for American Samoa with as many Members of Congress, staff and administration officials as I could. We have a number of important issues being considered in Washington right now and with less than 30 legislative days to go before Congress is scheduled to adjourn it is important that we not be overlooked, as has periodically been the case in the past.

I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity because there usually are only three major social occasions on the Washington calendar for islanders: the Guam/CNMI commemoration in July, Pacific Night in the spring and a reception held when island governors are in Washington each February for the winter meeting of the National Governors Association. We also have the ANZAC Day church service and reception but while island representatives do participate the focus of those events quite properly is on Australia and New Zealand.

With so much competition from so many other groups in Washington, these are the major social events that island representatives can attend at which U.S. government leaders can be expected to participate. Over the years I often have regretted that we have never had a Flag Day celebration in Washington but if elected this fall I am going to see about establishing one that might someday rival the Guam/CNMI event in size and enthusiasm. I know the other island representatives would welcome another social occasion to mix and mingle with Washington's elite.

Such observances are held in a number of Samoan communities on the Mainland and Hawaii and they are not necessarily held on April 17. More often they are in the summer. I feel we should have one in Washington and would want to schedule it so that it complements the others already established.

Thursday was the big day, with activities all day long for the ILF honorees. I begged offthe morning program, however, to take part in a breakfast meeting which also involved Senator Wayne Allard (CO), Congressman Joe Wilson (SC) and Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL). I knew Rep. Wilson from my days on the House conference staff, and Robert Aderholt and I go back even further to the days before he was in Congress when we first attended a campaigning conference together.

I will have more to say about this breakfast at another time.

From there I made a mad dash to the Basilica of the National Shrine, where much of official Washington was gathered for the sad funeral of Tony Snow, the former Fox Newsman and press secretary to President Bush. Because President Bush was leading the mourners, security was very tight and traffic was bumper, with major streets closed off. I had met Tony in the past on occasions at the White House and with the Republican National Committee and I wanted to pay this respect to him even though he was not a close friend.

After leaving the Basilica, I quickly rushed over the Hilton Hotel and joined up with the ILF group that was just arriving from their White House tour for lunch. The purpose of the luncheon was to bring together the honorees and the corporations that underwrite ILF in a setting more conductive to networking that would be during the giant gala in the evening. The lunch keynote speaker was former U.S. ambassador to the United Nation Sichan Siv, who was a 2006 ILF honoree.

Sichan was a Cambodian refugee who arrived in the U.S. with just two dollars to his name in 1976 and just 13 years later was a member George H.W. Bush's White House staff. That is when we first became friends and I was honored when he gave me an autographed copy of his autobiography: "Golden Bones - An Extraordinary Journey from Hell in Cambodia to a New Life in America," which just was published this month. On the inside flap, Sichan says "I was given the great advice that if I wanted to understand this country�specifically its political system�I had to get involved. And so I did."

Where else but America could an immigrant come here as a penniless refugee and retire as an ambassador thirty years later? I am looking forward to reading his book and am sure it will contain inspirational messages that would be useful for all of us. In addition to Sichan, I was given an opportunity to speak, thanked ILF for the honor of being the first Samoan whose leadership was being recognized by them and pledged to commit to involving more Samoans in the future in their summer Washington internship program, which is the centerpiece of their activities.

It was thrill not only to be the first Samoan to be honored but to be an honoree along with Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and U.S. Rep. Mike Honda, the chairman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC). Others who spoke at the gala included former Transportation and Commerce Secretary Norman Mineta, ILF's honorary chairman, and Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, who was the keynote speaker.

Was it worth the trip in terms of gaining visibility for American Samoa? Well, when he saw me at the ILF gala the night after the Guam/CNMI reception (where he stayed on for more than an hour), he greeted me with a hearty "Talofa." So I felt I had achieved my purpose.


Veterans Group endorses AUMUA AMATA for Congress
July 14, 2008

Reprinted from Samoa News

Las Vegas. The Veterans In Politics International group has announced its formal endorsement of Aumua Amata as delegate to Congress for the territory of American Samoa. In making the announcement, VIPI President Steve W. Sanson hailed Amata as a person of true understanding and compassion for people. He went on note that she has devoted herself to creating change and understanding for the good of all people.

Sanson, who served in both the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps and is a veteran of both the Desert Shield and Desert Storm campaigns, says VIPI was formed to provide an organization that would encourage more veterans to become involved in politics and government. Service personnel travel to foreign lands, said Sanson, start new governments and spread democracy, but often times return to America and as veterans are not involved in their own government. We are trying to change that.

Through this endorsement of Aumua Amata, VIPI says it hopes to encourage veterans in American Samoa to get behind her campaign and work hard to get her elected. Having grown up in the Caribbean, said Sanson, I am an islander myself and appreciate the need for door-to-door campaigning in small communities. I know Samoans soldiers and Marines from my days on active duty and they are very effective warriors. Now I hope they will turn their energies and talents to politics.

Noting that Amata herself is not a military veteran, but does come from a family with a tradition of military service, Sanson said she carries the veteran s value of honor in her heart. "Amata's golden heart has reached out to many veterans in their struggle; she is genuine in her commitment to our veteran community."

He concluded by saying Amata has the experience and knowledge to become the next delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives for American Samoa. Amata is not for one sector of people she is a person who is committed to all Americans.

More information on Veterans In Politics International can be found at our website:  veteransinpolitics.us.com


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