President López Obrador has defended the integrity of his government after a news outlet and an anti-corruption group revealed that his eldest son lives in an expensive home in Houston, Texas, and drives a car worth almost US $70,000.
Latinus and Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity (MCCI) reported that José Ramón López Beltrán, 40, and his wife Carolyn Adams live in a new house in the northwest of Houston that could be worth as much as $948,475.
The house is registered in the name of Adams, a Brazilian-American woman who has worked in Mexico as a lobbyist for an energy company.
The couple previously lived in a luxurious home north of Houston worth an estimated $1 million, according to Latinus and MCCI. The owner of that property until at least 2020 was Keith L. Schilling, a high-ranking executive with Baker Hughes, an oil sector company that has current contracts with state oil company Pemex worth over US $150 million.
Latinus and MCCI also reported that López Beltrán drives a Mercedes-Benz SUV purchased in Adams’ name.
The entities noted that since taking office in late 2018, López Obrador has called on others to follow the example he sets and live a life of austerity. The president has made combatting corruption a central aim of his administration and has implemented a range of austerity measures to free up funds for social programs and public infrastructure projects.
López Obrador said on Monday that his sons — he has three adult sons and one teenager — don’t have any influence in his government. “No contract is given to any recommended person,” he added.
AMLO said that his eldest son’s wife apparently has money but asserted that her wealth “has nothing to do with the government.”
“… We’re not the same,” the president declared, seeking to differentiate his administration from previous governments he frequently accuses of being corrupt.
López Obrador accused journalist Carlos Loret de Mola — who reported on AMLO’s son for Latinus – of being a “mercenary.”
“He made a scandal because he thinks we’re the same. … He was and continues to be at the service of the mafia of power. He was capable of participating in a television setup of a French citizen, he was a very good friend of [former security minister and accused criminal Genaro] García Luna and, of course, [former president Felipe] Calderón,” he said.
“… He was capable of inventing the thing about … Frida Sofía,” López Obrador added, referring to a girl who was supposedly trapped in the rubble of a school in Mexico City after a powerful 2017 earthquake but in fact didn’t exist.
“… Loret de Mola … is a bully, a mercenary without ideals, without principles,” he said.
The journalist subsequently said on Twitter that the president had insulted and slandered him but “didn’t refute a single word about the mansions and luxuries of his son.”
López Obrador attributed the Latinus/MCCI report to government opponents who are unhappy with his administration’s policies. He has clashed previously with both MCCI and Loret de Mola, who presents a YouTube program for Latinus. The anti-graft group and the journalist have exposed alleged corruption within the federal government and involving members of his family.
“… We’re moving ahead with the transformation of Mexico, even though Claudio [X. González], those who felt they were the owners of Mexico, the bought or hired press, organic intellectuals and go-betweens of the regime of corruption don’t like it,” López Obrador said Monday.
González is the founder of MCCI and an outspoken government critic.
The president also said that not everyone with money is “evil.”
“There are those who made their wealth with effort, with work in accordance with the law. They deserve respect. I’m against ill-gotten wealth — corruption annoys me, corruption angers me,” López Obrador said.
The president late last year defended his adult sons after an investigation asserted that a cacao plantation they own in Tabasco benefited from Sembrando Vida (Sowing Life), the federal government’s allegedly corruption-plagued tree-planting employment program.