San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Libertarians questioned again in campaign funding scandal

The investigation of the Libertarian Movement Party’s (ML) campaign finances continues as details from  the 2010 campaign continue to surface.

The daily La Nación reported that the Friederich Naumann Foundation for Liberty (FNF), a German non-profit dedicated to promoting democratic liberties, paid for a series of campaign events at four hotels without charging the ML. The ML then charged those costs to the Supreme Elections Tribunal (TSE), which reimburses parties for campaign expenses.

The seminars were held at hotels in La Garita de Alajuela, Santo Domingo de Heredia, San Carlos and Liberia in July and August of 2009. The seminars were organized by the Institute of Liberty and Progress (ILPRO), the ML’s academic branch founded in 2007.

The total cost of the seminars was $21,280, an average of $160 for each of the 133 attendees. Two of the hotels have confirmed that the FNF paid the charges, La Nación reported. The invoices submitted to the TSE include lists of participants with signatures on paper with ILPRO letterheads. One invoice has a letterhead from the FNF’s Mexico City office.

Ulrich Wacker, the FNF’s director of Latin American operations, observed the attendance documents and told La Nación: “The list of participants coincides with the list from the foundation, not in format or letterhead, but in the number of participants and the order in which they registered.”

The seminars were organized by Moisés González when he was Secretary of Municipal Affairs for the ML. He affirmed on Sept. 9 that he organized the hotel events, and that the expenses were assumed by the FNF. He also said he wasn’t sure what the function of ILPRO was nor how the attendance documents arrived in party hands with the ILPRO logo.

Otto Guevara and Ronaldo Alfaro, president and treasurer of the ML, respectively, said they cannot speak about the matter because the invoices sent to the TSE were taken last May when the Libertarian House in Montes de Oca was raided as the campaign finance investigation began.

Prosecutors are also investigating 194 campaign workshops hosted by the ML, as some presenters say they lectured free of charge and participants deny having attended despite attendance lists that include their signatures.

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