Mexican electoral authority has fined presidential candidate Jaime “El Bronco” Rodriguez for raise illicit campaign funds, the body reports.
The National Electoral Institute (INE) claimed, late Monday, that “El Bronco” had managed to acquire some US$700,000 in an irregular manner. The independent candidate – a first for Mexico – has denied any wrongdoing.
“INE knows companies cannot contribute to campaigns. What my friends who have companies did was transfer money from their company to their personal account,” Rodriguez said, adding that a “dirty war” had been launched by the electoral body.
INE board member Ciro Murayama said at least US$200,000 of the illicit funding was from what appeared to be front companies that transferred large sums to individuals who then donated to Rodriguez’s campaign. “El Bronco” was fined US$37,000.
"It's a triangulation to make citizens appear as legitimate supporters, when in reality the money came from businesses with which these citizens have no relationship whatsoever," Murayama said in a statement.
The National Electoral Institute has forwarded the case to the Attorney General’s Office and Mexico’s tax agency for further investigation.
Private companies are prohibited from donating to political campaigns. According to INE, Rodriguez also had public employees work on his campaign during work hours and paid individuals to collect signatures to offset his candidacy.
Mexican activists have recorded and alleged that politicians are participating in widespread vote-buying and overspending across the various campaigns, especially considering corruption accusations surrounding current President Enrique Pena Nieto.
Last year, Alejandro Gutierrez, a senior figure in Pena Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), was arrested in connection with the alleged diversion of millions of dollars in public funds by the PRI during 2016 state elections.
Rodriguez currently trails in fourth place behind Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), who enjoys a significant lead and is favored to be the next president of the Central American country.
Rodriguez is on leave as governor of Nuevo Leon state. The presidential elections are set for July 1.