Mexican governor denies corruption as president looks on
An oppositionparty Mexican governor suddenly engulfed in a national scandal defended his integrity Wednesday alongside President Andrs Manuel Lpez Obrador, who has played a part in embarrassing him.
- Associated Press
- Last Updated: August 19, 2020, 4:45 PM IST
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MEXICO CITY An opposition-party Mexican governor suddenly engulfed in a national scandal defended his integrity Wednesday alongside President Andrs Manuel Lpez Obrador, who has played a part in embarrassing him.
Just a day earlier, Lpez Obrador had displayed to reporters a widely circulated video of unknown provenance showing two men stuffing stacks of cash into a duffel bag. One of those men was a longtime close aide to Queretaro Gov. Francisco Domnguez, an outspoken critic of the president, who Lpez Obrador visited Wednesday.
Domnguez quickly fired the aide and insisted he knew nothing about any misdeeds.
I dont have anything to fear, nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to hide, Domnguez said, while defending his support for an energy reform that is the focus of a probe into bribery. Lpez Obrador had fiercely opposed the reform.
In his earlier role as a senator, I presented the (reform) personally in the name of my party,” Domnguez said. “Ive always been convinced the reform was beneficial for the country. … There was no need to give me money for my vote which was already given out of personal conviction.
While it is unclear who shot the video, or when, the president has connected it to a formal legal complaint filed by Emilio Lozoya, the former head of Mexicos state-run oil company. Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero said last week that Lozoya alleges former President Enrique Pea Nieto and his finance secretary Luis Videgaray directed him to bribe lawmakers including five senators to support the controversial energy and other structural reforms. Gertz did not name the lawmakers.
At that time of the alleged bribes Domnguez was a senator from the central state of Queretaro for the conservative National Action Party.
He said earlier this week that he had no knowledge of what his aide was doing in the video.
After months on the run, Lozoya was arrested in Spain in February and extradited to Mexico in July after agreeing to cooperate with investigators. He faces corruption charges related to Pemexs overvalued purchase of a fertilizer plant and to millions in dollars of bribes from Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht.
And his apparent cooperation is already shaking the highest levels of Mexican politics particularly among Lpez Obrador’s rivals.
In addition to the alleged bribes for lawmakers, Lozoya has told prosecutors that Pea Nieto and Videgaray told him to use $4 million from Odebrecht to pay foreign campaign consultants for work on Pea Nietos 2012 election campaign. That campaign put his Institutional Revolutionary Party back in power after 12 years in the opposition.
Pea Nieto, who is reported to live abroad, and Videgaray have not spoken publicly since the allegations emerged last week. Neither Videgaray nor his assistant at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have responded to emails seeking comment and Pea Nieto’s former chief of staff also did not respond.
On Wednesday, Lpez Obrador, who has made fighting corruption the centerpiece of his administration, demurred when asked to comment on the allegations in front of Domnguez.
Why dont we leave it for another time, the president said.