The illegal financing of electoral campaigns in Ecuador has been walked through the corridors of the Electoral Council (CNE) like an elephant to which, however, nobody sees and, worse, catches. One is the accounting that is registered officially and another that, outside of state control, manages the actual contributions that reach a good part of the candidacies.
It recognizes its highest authority: “At first glance, there are impressive campaigns, which are not equated, by simple accounting, to the amount of expenditure that is authorized … You can see it by the amount of posters, advertising, artists, concerts. … “, the president of the CNE, Diana Atamaint, pointed out to EL UNIVERSO.
In each election, the agency sets a maximum amount of electoral spending and, in theory, reviews the receipts and reports presented by political organizations. This is what the Code of Democracy provides. However, neither the first is respected nor the second is fulfilled.
The revelation of the portals Mil Hojas and La Fuente, under the name of Arroz Verde, on a million-dollar Alianza PAIS financing scheme in the correísta period through contributions from local and multinational companies (such as Odebrecht), once again put into discussion the true dimension of the money that enters the campaigns.
Since then, exclusively, in the accounts of the Citizen Revolution, but the inconsistencies reach many more political stores.
The official information is incomplete and contradictory. According to Article 212 of the Code of Democracy, the CNE “will publish during and after the electoral process all the information related to the financing and spending of political subjects, through the official website of the National Electoral Council, which allows consultation and timely supervision by citizens. “
In the portal, however, there are only the balance sheets (without notification of origin or justification of expenses) of fifteen parties and movements; of these, eight did not present the reports that the law orders.
In addition, the site publishes the accounts of the binomials that participated in the 2013 presidential elections. There it can be seen that the eight pairs of applicants had a cap of $ 1.7 million each, but reported expenses that did not even reach 10%. of that limit (with the exception of AP and Prian, which bordered the million).
These are all the data to which citizens have access through the Internet. “Organizations present their reports and invoices. And that’s what they have, “Atamaint said.
But in his office also rest two internal memoranda of the Directorate of Supervision of the CNE, developed on March 11, which shows that the agency has been dammed since 2012-without revision or approval of the full Council-a list of reports on the amount, destination and origin of private resources used in campaign by 18 parties and political movements.
Do those reports have observations? Surely, the head of the CNE responded.
According to Mauricio Alarcón, director of the Citizenship and Development Foundation, the control of political financing “as it is proposed is a salute to the flag”.
The electoral authority, he stressed, only judges and closes what the political subjects say. “The consequence is what we are living: things as ridiculous as campaigns that we all know cost millions of dollars and that happen in the control body as if they cost only a few hundred thousand.”
More speeches and less transparency
On December 11, 2017, the surrogate controller, Pablo Celi, ordered the auditing of the use of the Permanent Support Fund money (state money) delivered to Alianza PAIS between January 1, 2011 and November 30, 2017. It has passed more than a year and a half, but that report has not been made public, even though sources from the control body confirmed that it has already been approved.
Until the close of this edition, the document had not been uploaded to the Comptroller’s website, as is the case with all the approved reports.
The Office of the Comptroller is one of the bodies mentioned in the Code of Democracy that complement the control of campaign financing, specifically with regard to state allocations.
The Internal Revenue Service (SRI) or the Financial and Economic Analysis Unit (UAFE) also have responsibility for the surveillance, whose reports could serve to make known the identity, relationships and amounts of the real financiers of the campaigns. Their alerts, however, are eventual and when they are kept in reserve, without citizens being able to know who pays the bills of their candidates.
Counselor Luis Verdesoto believes that a reform is urgent. It proposes that an “electoral notary” verify the reports sent to the CNE, in coordination with the other control entities. When will they send the reform, which announced it Who announced it a few weeks ago? We are completing it, he says. Are there deadlines? Do not.
The president of the CNE, Diana Atamaint, joins, but like the rest of the councilors, it does not materialize. “There are many gaps in the Code. We have not sat down to comment yet, but there are very good ideas, “he said.
Code of democracy.- Prohibited gifts and inauguration of works
Candidates and political organizations can not deliver gifts or donations to citizens (Article 204). There is a report by counselor Luis Verdesoto describing this practice in several areas, in the last elections. In as much, those who exert a public function and are candidates will not be able to participate in inauguration of works financed with public funds. Neither may hire advertising to promote them (Article 207). The CNE learned several cases of anticipated campaign with private money and the State. (I)