Updated: July 31, 2019, 1:39 p.m.
Embattled Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello has announced his nomination of Pedro Pierluisi, a former congressional representative, to be the U.S. territory's new secretary of state.
The decision puts Pierluisi in line to become governor when Rossello steps down Friday. However, it is not clear whether Pierluisi will become secretary of state as some lawmakers say they will not vote to confirm him in a special legislative session.
Protesters took to the streets for several days to demand Rossello's resignation after investigative journalists leaked nearly 900 pages of offensive online chats between him and 11 top aides. The conversations included profane messages laced with contempt for victims of 2017's Hurricane Maria, as well as misogynistic and homophobic slurs against Rossello's political opponents.
Rossello's would-be successor, then-Secretary of State Luis Rivera Marin, resigned in the immediate aftermath.
Under the U.S. territory's constitution, the secretary of state automatically fills a vacant governorship.
The second-in-line for the top job would be Justice Minister Wanda Vazquez, who has said she does not want to be governor.
Legislators have only until Friday, when Rossello leaves office, to name his successor.
Possible conflict of interest
Rossello said he chose Pierluisi "after a lot of analysis, and taking into account the best interests of our community."
Luego de mucho análisis y tomando en cuenta los mejores intereses del nuestro Pueblo, he seleccionado al Lcdo Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia para llenar la vacante de Secretario de Estado. Para atender el asunto, estaré convocando una extraordinaria para mañana.— Ricardo Rosselló (@ricardorossello) July 31, 2019
In his tweet, Rossello announced a special legislative meeting Thursday for lawmakers to vote on the nomination.
Some Puerto Rican lawmakers say they will oppose Pierluisi's nomination because of a potential conflict of interest. Pierluisi works for law firm O'Neill and Borges, which provides external consulting to the unelected federal control board that oversees the entire island's finances. Pierluisi's brother-in-law, Jose B. Carrion III, also chairs the board.
Pierluisi has been on a leave of absence from O'Neill & Borges since Tuesday, according to the firm's website.
Protests have already sprung up denouncing Vazquez as too close to Rossello.
Pierluisi served as Puerto Rico's non-voting congressional representative from 2009 to 2017, and was previously the island's secretary of justice in the 1990s, under the administration of Rossello's father, Pedro. In 2016, Pierluisi ran against Rossello for the pro-statehood New Progressive Party's governorship nomination, and lost.
Rossello told The New York Times that Pierluisi would not run for governor in 2020, but would instead finish out the term.
Rossello had also come under fire for his handling of the island's hurricane recovery and for corruption within the territory's government, which included the arrests of two former Cabinet members in the days before Rossello's chats were leaked.