January 9th, 2013 (InsideCostaRica.com) The Electoral Supreme Court (TSE) filed a claim with the Attorney General stating that Laura Chinchilla’s pre-campaign did not report the origins of 370 million colons (about $740,000) in the campaign’s accounts.
According to a report sent to the Attorney General during the last days of December, Chinchilla’s campaign received over 715 million colons in the 2009 convention year, but only reported 344 million colons to the National Liberation Party (Partido Liberacion Nacional, or PLN).
The campaign had the obligation of informing the PLN about its fundraising, and the Party, in turn, had the legal obligation of reporting the total money received to the Electoral Court.
Moreover, according to the internal rules of the Party, each candidate’s campaign was supposed to be deposited in PLN accounts, so that the party could verify and cross-reference the donors, after which it would return the funds to the candidates’ campaigns.
Suspicions arose when the TSE found that the group responsible for Chinchilla’s campaign spent nearly double in campaign expenses than what it reported in donations.
The court reached this conclusion after carefully analyzing the bank accounts of an association called “Laura Hacia el Dos Mil Diez” (Laura for 2010), created by the campaign treasurer, Jorge Walter Bolanos, to manage the finances for the national convention on June 7th, 2009.
The TSE also advised the Attorney General that the organization may have managed funds in cash that were never deposited in bank accounts.
Bolanos, who went on to become the treasurer for the PLN in the national campaign and is currently the representative for Costa Rica in the Central American Economic Integration Bank (BCIE, in Spanish), abstained from providing any statements.
Through an email, Bolanos said, “I do not know what conclusions the TSE has reached, and I cannot provide an opinion on something that I am unaware of.”
Meanwhile, President, Laura Chinchilla, asked by La Nacion whether she knew who donated money to her campaign, responded that it was “very difficult for a President of a democracy in the Western hemisphere to answer that question.”
“The important thing is to have transparency in the financing mechanisms in the parties, so that anyone is able to review them. And in that sense, my campaign was impeccable,” she said.
Yesterday, the Public Ministry said that neither the President, nor any high-ranking official in the government is involved in the case, stating that it is Bolanos and two collaborators who are under investigation.
The TSE also stated that according to the previous Electoral Code, which was in effect during the campaign in question, all donations received were to be reported, and not doing so could bring penalties of anywhere between 2 to 12 months in jail.