Delavian Bribery Scandal
The Delavian Bribery Scandal was a political scandal that occurred in Zamastan from January 13th-February 9th, 2019. The scandal began when Congressman Cormac Hammer opened articles of investigation and ethics violations into President Zacharias Castovia's winter vacation to a private island owned by Tauren Delavian (for whom the trial was named). In the end, President Castovia was cleared of charges, but his Chief of Staff, Emily Miranda, was found guilty or receiving bribes and exchanging promises of vote-telling. Congressman Hammer himself was eventually found guilty through self-incrimination on his own bribery scandals after paying a journalist to find evidence illegally.
On January 13th, 2019, Pahl's 18th District Congressman Cormac Hammer (Green Liberal Party) opened his session in Congressional Hall by revealing he would pursue charges for investigation and opened articles for ethics violation investigations against President Zacharias Castovia. In his remarks to the congress and senate, he stated that the allegations were for a holiday trip Castovia took on a private island belonging to a billionaire board member from ZSuites Incorporated; the President founded the company and was the former CEO and President of the company. The island was owned by Tauren Delavian, who headed the branch of the company that had operated as a registered lobbyist from 2014-2015. It had received hundred of millions in grants from the federal government in decades prior for its vehicle and weapons manufacturing investments.
Zamastan’s federal conflict-of-interest and ethics office said it was probing whether the visit to the island, which took place over the new year, broke rules preventing elected officials from accepting bribes. The proposed investigations would determine whether the President was bribed in any way, accepted any bribes in any form, or promised legislative or executive action in return for bribes or monetary compensation. President Castovia denied any allegations of bribery, pointing out the hypocrisy of Congressman Hammer following his own ethics probe in 2013 and a conflict of interest because of Hammer's ties to ZSuites, where his division was severed.
However, on January 14th, Speaker Foley Sakzi approved a vote on the Congress floor for clearing the ethics investigation, which passed 268 yay, 231 nay, and 1 abstention. The President, along with his cabinet and staff, were now subject to a subpoena by a special prosecutor. Castovia doubled down on the assertion that no ethical breach had been made and that he had not received any bribes or gifts exceeding Z$5,000. Congressman Hammer and Northern Island's 2nd District senator Janessa Ranniso (whom Castovia had run against in the 2018 election) went forward with approving special prosecutor Cairo Gough to the investigation with a 48 hour cap.
On January 15th, prosecutor Gough announced he had found no signs of ethical breach by President Castovia after a 29 hour investigation. The investigation determined that Castovia had received gifts from Delavian, including a new television for his private residence and two books documenting historical accounts of the Minjian Faith and the Church of Zian, but the gifts only amounted to Z$2,092 and were given with no intention of bribery or political compensation. However, the President's Chief of Staff, Emily Miranda, was found guilty or receiving bribes and exchanging promises of vote-telling members of both the liberal and conservative parties. Miranda submitted her resignation later that day. On the 16th, Castovia hired Aya Booth as his replacement for Miranda.
On January 22nd, Castovia announced suddenly and unexpectedly his tenure as president would come to an end on Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019. The President was in office for three years and 23 days. In an address to the nation, he stated that following a series of conversations with his senior staff, including his Secretary of Defense Curtis Fondaden and Secretary of State Avi Tremblan, about the state of the nation, he would resign the presidency. The vague explanation left many stunned, as the President had just survived an ethics commission investigation and was also riding a wave of success following a newly revived green-energy initiative with bi-partisan support. He did not name a preferred successor, leading many to assume that he would simply leave the office up for grabs with an emergency election. The emergency election chose Anya Bishop, a member of the Blue Conservative Party (Zamastan) as the replacement.
Hammer is Impeached
On January 31st, an independent report from The Tofino Times was published, alleging that Castovia had attempted to cover up activities that took place after the meeting on the island, and also attempted to use federal officials to deflect the investigation. Castovia denied the accusations that same day, but reiterated that he regretted the political fallout that ensued because of the vacation. The following day, February 1st, a recorded tape was released that contained a conversation between a Tofino Times reporter and Congressman Hammer, with the latter offering a payment of Z$23,000 if the reporter could find evidence of bribery corruption between Castovia and Delavian. Ironically, this implicated Hammer in his own bribery scandal. On February 9th, Hammer was impeached by members of Congress and was sentenced by special prosecutor Gough to two years in a federal prison.