The effects of El Destape‘s journalistic investigation, which alleges that the Cambiemos coalition laundered money for the 2017 midterms campaign in the Buenos Aires Province through citizens oblivious to the maneuvers continues to grow. Yesterday, the national Social Development Ministry, led by Carolina Stanley, informed Federal Prosecutor Jorge Di Lello that, as the news site’s investigation revealed, several people whom Cambiemos informed contributed to its 2017 midterms campaign, are in fact recipients of social welfare plans.
Di Lello, who besides being a regular prosecutor has competence in electoral affairs, began a formal investigation following the news that was broken a month ago and now has Cambiemos – particularly María Eugenia Vidal’s administration – in hot water.
Since the first article published by Juan Amorín described 205 cases, the prosecutor requested the ministry provide information about them. El Destape assures that so far it has been able to confirm a total of 1,200 contributors, most of whom also appear as members of the PRO party, even though they also deny having done so.
Moreover, he instructed Gendarmerie officials to conduct a field report and determine the socioeconomic situation of these alleged contributors; they were confirmed to be from low-income sectors. Amorín interviewed several of them as part of his investigation, and all denied having made any contributions to the campaign.
These events prompted two other criminal investigations. One was introduced to a La Plata court by provincial Senator Teresa García (Unidad Ciudadana), while the other follows a presentation made by NGO La Alameda, and is currently being investigated by Federal Judge Sebastián Casanello.
Casanello has already called 50 alleged contributors and will question them once the judicial recess finishes at the end of this week. Former Deputy and Presidential Candidate Margarita Stolbizer has requested to formally contribute to the investigation as an amicus curiae, by presenting new cases of citizens who appear as contributors but deny having actually made the donations.
The list of alleged fake contributors is not circumscribed to recipients of welfare programs. Several current and former Cambiemos officials also show up as such; similar to the others consulted, they all deny having knowingly made contributions. Former City of Buenos Aires Culture Minister Darío Lopérfido and current General Pueyrredón Mayor Carlos Arroyo are some of the most notable names that have popped up.
In fact, former Cambiemos candidate for the 2015 Ituzaingó district mayoral elections, Gustavo Marasco, proactively appeared before Casanello to personally reject contributing AR $50,000 to the 2017 campaign.
In a radio interview last week, Marasco assured that National Deputy and co-founder of the Cambiemos Coalition, Elisa “Lilita” Carrió, considered by many to be the party’s “moral compass,” knew about the scheme implemented but refrained from acting. “I personally told Paula Oliveto [National Deputy and a close aide of Carrió] but she told me they couldn’t do anything about it,” said Marasco.
After initially dismissing the accusation as “Kirchnerite,” Vidal announced last week she’d ordered an audit on the campaign contributions, and fired the administration’s Accountant General María Fernanda Inza, as she was Cambiemos’ treasurer during the campaign and therefore in charge of declaring the origins of said donations.