Political parties face fines totaling 714.9 million pesos (US $37.2 million) for using election funds to buy household appliances and garden decorations and pay for phony educational courses and travel with no clear political purpose.
An audit by the National Electoral Institute (INE) detected a range of irregularities in parties’ spending. Full details will be announced on Wednesday.
The ruling Morena party is to be fined 268 million pesos, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) will have to pay 89 million and the Citizens’ Movement (MC) party faces an 81-million-peso penalty.
The Democratic Revolution Party (PRD), the National Action Party (PAN), the Labor Party (PT) and the Ecological Green Party (PVEM) face fines ranging from 44 million to 77 million pesos.
The National Executive Committee of Morena, a party founded by President López Obrador, was found to have spent just under 724,000 pesos (US $37,700) in 2018 on air travel that was unrelated to political activities.
Under the leadership of Yeidckol Polevnsky, the Morena committee also spent 120,000 pesos to purchase 2,000 portable flower decorations that were supposedly used “to cover grass.”
However, the newspaper Milenio noted that there are no green areas at Morena headquarters, adding that no justification was provided to INE that the decorations were used at a political event.
In Veracruz, the electoral institute questioned the use of 8.2 million pesos by the state committee of the PAN for gasoline purchases, 3 million pesos for the rent of buildings and 3 million pesos for food at courses that were never held.
In the same state, INE found irregularities in the use of 2.9 million pesos by the PRD for 20 training courses. The veracity of the trainers’ CVs and the education materials that supposedly used were both questioned by INE.
In Oaxaca, the PRI reported spending of 688,000 pesos to hold meetings for members in order to “strengthen camaraderie and friendship” while in Coahuila the party provided no justification for a 160,000-peso outlay on materials and electrical supply.
Spending by the PVEM in Veracruz was also questioned by INE. The party spent more than 12.4 million pesos on consultancy services but the CVs of the “professionals” who supposedly provided the services were found to correspond to other people.
Mario Delgado, leader of Morena in the lower house on Congress, said that a vote will be held on Thursday to cut political parties’ funding by 50%.
Revelations of the questionable spending is particularly embarrassing for the ruling party, which has approved wide-ranging austerity measures.
Delgado called on opposition parties to support Morena’s proposal to reduce party funding by half.
However, the PAN, PRI, MC, PRD, PVEM and even the PT, a Morena coalition partner, have rejected the plan. The proposal requires a change to the constitution, meaning that a two-thirds majority in Congress, rather than a simple one, is required to pass.
Even with the support of Social Encounter Party lawmakers, Morena will fall 50 votes short of the 334 it requires to ensure the proposal passes the 500-seat Chamber of Deputies.
For that reason, Delgado is trying to rally support. “Let’s see who’s willing . . . to vote in favor of this reform,” he said, adding that the proposal would generate savings of up to 2.5 billion pesos (US $130.3 million) in the 2020 budget.