On June 17, news site El Destape published an investigative report accusing the Cambiemos coalition of laundering money for the 2017 midterms campaign in the Buenos Aires Province through the recipients of social welfare plans. Ever since, journalist Juan Amorín has periodically alleged to have uncovered several more instances revealing this illegal practice in different districts of the largest province in the country. As such, he’s called for Cambiemos officials – particularly Buenos Aires Governor María Eugenia Vidal – to explain themselves.
The calls have been replicated especially by journalists, activists, and politicians with ties to the Frente Para la Victoria (FpV), party with which El Destape is ideologically aligned. However, the mainstream media, with the exception of Perfil, have not covered this controversy. Cambiemos officials had not addressed them either until yesterday, when Governor Vidal was asked about the issue in a press conference.
Vidal, however, dismissed the allegations arguing they came from “Kirchnerite sectors” and said they will submit any documentation required. “There is nothing to hide regarding these accusations that were made about some contributors. We have done two things: first, request an audit of the financial documents within the Cambiemos campaign, and then, make ourselves available to judicial officials,” she said.
Vidal went on to shift the focus of the conversation, arguing that “what is important is changing the law regulating the financing of political parties, as it has several loopholes and shortcomings.” She requested a law be sanctioned whereby all people are required to make their contributions through the banking system, “so there is no doubt about who contributed and who did not, about who signed a receipt and who did not.”
The news prompted three different criminal investigations. One was started by Jorge Di Lello, the prosecutor before the electoral court; Federal Judge Sebastián Casanello was assigned another one, a result of an accusation made by NGO La Alameda; and a third was introduced to a La Plata court by provincial Senator Teresa García (Unidad Ciudadana), who directly accused Vidal, her Cabinet Chief Federico Salvai, and other provincial officials of the financial crime.
In fact, Judge Casanello has called some alleged contributors into questioning. Several people who appear as contributors in Cambiemos’ campaign documents denied having done so in different interviews with El Destape.
Amorín cross-referenced the lists of recipients of welfare plans “Argentina Trabaja” and “Ellas Hacen,” run by the Social Development Ministry, and the list of contributors to the 2017 midterms campaign in the Province, and found out that “an enormous amount of matches were found.” “They all contributed to the [Esteban] Bullrich and [Graciela] Ocaña campaigns with small amounts of money, which range from AR $300 to $1,500,” he said when explaining how he conducted the investigation.
To date, no judge or prosecutor has decided to formally charge the accused.