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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Will solicitation of $6 million from business interests stop or slow López Obrador's upward movement?

Revelation may damage his anti-corruption campaign

cambio cover amloCambio magazine's cover this week was entitled "AMLO: The Dark Side," and went into detail on a scandal first reported by El Universal where backers of populist presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador solicited $6 million from business interests to help win the July 1 election.

Columnist Carlos Marín said the revelation hit the wake of the López Obrador campaign's forward movement in the polls like a torpedo. Among those participating in the meeting, which was recorded, were filmmaker Luis Mandoki, who made the documentary "¿Quién es el Señor López?", and businessman Adolfo Hellmund, slated to become López Obrador's energy minister.

López Obrador disclaimed responsibility, and over the weekend made a show of presenting a report on his campaign finances, which he said do not include contributions from businesses or private parties. Story in Frontera (PDF). Federal Electoral Institute President Leonard Valdés said the next day, however, that the finance report had not been received by his office. Story in Frontera (PDF).

Cambio reported that López Obrador has needed vast sums of money for the presidential campaign he has been engaged in since he lost the 2006 election. The magazine quoted Democratic Revolution Party member Marco Aurelio Sánchez, author of "La Izquierda Ficticia" (The Fictitious Left) , as saying López Obrador's image of financial integrity "never has been true." He said López Obrador long received money as the price of stopping protests he led. Sánchez also claimed that during López Obrador's 2000-2005 term as mayor of Mexico City, he built a second level of freeways in part because it was easy to skim money off that project to fund his political aspirations and provide money for his advisers. In 2004, a video showed PRD leader Carlos Ahumada receiving cash from Argentine business Carlos Ahumada following a contract negotiation for roadbuilding in Mexico City. Another video showed Mexico City finance director Gustavo Ponce spending a lot of money in Las Vegas.

El Universal reported that López Obrador backers Luis Costa Bonino (an Uruguayan) and Luis Creel (a cousin of former National Action Party presidential hopeful Santiago Creel) apparently sought $6 million from Casas Geo President Luis Orvañanos, Grup Comex representative Elena Achar, and architect Rogelio Jiménez Pons. The idea was that donors would receive building contracts after López Obrador became president. The audio quoted Costa Bonino as saying, "We need to acquire $6 million to win the presidential election, the rest we have under control.... We are going to win this election.... I would like to ask on this occasion that you give to the campaign knowing that this is a contribution not to hope, but for victory." He added, "For those who want to and can support us ... the candidate would be extraordinarily grateful ... and we promise to generate a meeting so that you could let him know what you would like from him."

Columnist Antonio Medina de Anda calls allegations a plot against López Obrador (PDF).

Fight against corruption is one of López Obrador's strong points with voters