MEXICO CITY, July 9 (Reuters) – Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Friday ignored a video showing one of his younger brothers receiving money from a political operator, saying it was part of a campaign to defamation carried out by opponents to discredit him.
The video, the second in a year to show a brother of the president taking money from the political agent, sparked further criticism of Lopez Obrador from the Mexican opposition, whom he has regularly described as infused with of corruption.
Posted by Mexican media outlet Latinus, the video apparently made in 2015 shows a man who later served in the Lopez Obrador administration handing Martin Jesus Lopez Obrador an envelope filled with a large stack of banknotes. Read more
“I think the intention is to hurt me, or to try to hurt me,” the president said at a press conference. “This is the eternal black campaign of my opponents. We are used to it. But we have always come out of slander unscathed.”
He said he would not cover anyone and authorities should investigate whether a crime had been committed and punish any wrongdoing.
“But my conscience is clear,” Lopez Obrador added.
The man filmed giving the money to his brother was David Leon, whom Lopez Obrador appointed as head of Mexico’s civil protection agency after assuming the presidency in December 2018.
Leon resigned from the government last August after a separate video leaked showing him handing money in 2015 to another brother of Lopez Obrador’s. On this occasion, the president described the money as contributions from supporters.
Leon said on Twitter that the money in the new video was a loan he provided from his personal savings.
Lopez Obrador has forged his reputation as a bane of corruption, and the video leak comes three weeks before a referendum on whether to investigate past political decisions he used to question the legacy of former presidents.
One of the former presidents, Vicente Fox, took hold of the video, tweeting: “One question: will people who pass on illicit money to their brothers also be put on trial?”
According to Latinus, the last video was shot in 2015 just before the elections in which Lopez Obrador’s political party, the Left National Regeneration Movement (MORENA), was competing for the first time.
Lopez Obrador told the press conference that the money was not for him or for any political campaign, and that he understood that it was a personal matter between his brother and Leon.
The president’s popularity remains strong, with polls well over 50% in most national polls. The 2020 video leak has eroded its approval rating somewhat, and the news could do the same, said Roy Campos, director of polling firm Consulta Mitofsky.
But Lopez Obrador has generally been more adept at changing the political narrative than the opposition has been at capitalizing on scandals, Campos said.
Media attention began to shift from the video leak on Friday afternoon after the attorney general’s office said it was investigating a senior previous government official for alleged illicit enrichment. Read more
Reporting by Dave Graham Editing by John Stonestreet and Chris Reese
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