For every peso declared to Mexican electoral authorities by political parties and candidates, 15 more are moving under the table, according to a report Tuesday on the problem of illegal campaign finance. The nonprofit Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity published the report after months of investigation, concluding that Mexico’s public campaign finance system has failed to keep illegal money from influencing elections. The report says that the cash moving around electoral campaigns is such that Mexico’s central bank has documented inexplicable increases in the amount of cash circulating in the economy in the five months before elections. The money comes from both public and private sources. Money is siphoned from public programs and local governments to fund campaigns and is funneled to candidates by businesses interested in winning public contracts and having access to elected officials.
“The illegal campaign financing is the principle problem of electoral democracy,” said Maria Amparo Casar, the organization’s executive president and one of the study’s authors, in an interview prior to the report’s release. “What it does is when one arrives to power, what you’re doing is buying benefits.”
On Monday, Mexico’s electoral institute fined independent presidential candidate Jaime Rodriguez more than $37,000 (739,000 pesos) for an assortment of alleged campaign violations, including having hundreds of state government employees working to gather the signatures necessary for him to appear on the ballot.