The "Kangaroo Scandal" Claims Its First Victim
Tuesday, January 07 2014 @ 02:26 pm EST
Contributed by: Don Winner
A text message on cellphone and a tweet, released yesterday, took the case to the center of the political stage.
At 3:52 pm yesterday afternoon president Ricardo Martinelli announced via Twitter he had accepted the resignation of the director of the National Lottery, Emilio Somoza, who has been wrapped in the so-called "Kangaroo Scandal" for having offered money and politically appointed positions (jobs) to the leader of youth of the PRD in exchange for him jumping ranks to the MOLIRENA political party.
"I just accept the resignation of the Director General of the National Lottery of Panama," Martinelli wrote.
Last Friday - just minutes before Moulanier filed a formal complaint over the alleged bribes before the Electoral Prosecutor - president Martinelli wrote via Twitter "if there is evidence of what is being denounced by Mr. Moulanier, the Director of the the National Lottery of Panama will be immediately fired."
Somoza did not wait for the conclusion of the investigation, and he left the position he held since last October, when he replaced the President of the MOLIRENA party, Sergio González Ruiz.
His Resignation Is Not Enough
The social networks exploded with comments following Somoza's resignation.
The former Attorney General Ana Matilde Gomez was one of the first to call for the investigation requested by Moulanier.
"Faced with what happened in front of the Electoral Tribunal with the Director of the National Lottery, it's good that he resigned, but it's not enough. There should be an investigation," she said.
The opinion expressed by the former Electoral Tribunal judge Guillermo Márquez Amado was similar to that of Gomez.
"The resignation of the director of the Lottery should not mean that the investigation should be suspended," he said.
Márquez Amado added that "the one who should resign is the Electoral Prosecutor."
Yesterday afternoon the secretary of the Electoral Prosecutor, Juan Alvarado, said an investigation has been started in this case.
Somoza, in a brief statement issued by the Presidency of the Republic, said he resigned to devote time to clear his name of what he calls 'false accusations.'
"Kangaroos" in Panamanian Politics
Three days after the scandal broke, Moulanier appeared on television where he displayed a conversation via text chat, in which he receives the alleged offer to abandon the opposition group.
The conversation displayed by Moulainer was with Eduardo Lamphery, who also claimed to be a member of the PRD.
"Brother," - says the conversation displayed by Moulanier - "50k for you to switch, and five positions for your wife and family members. Two positions of $2,000 (per month) and three of $500 (per month). It's right now. He's already talked to the HD president and SGR."
According to Moulanier, that was part of the offer made to him by the MOLIRENA party for him to resign from the PRD and to support the candidate of the ruling Democratic Change party, José Domingo Arias.
Moulainer's complaint received an immediate response from Lamphrey. He was clear when he said "I take responsibility for the chat, but I do not take responsibility for the conversation."
About the content of the conversation with Moulanier, Lamphrey explained that the "50k" mentioned in the chat "did not refer to money, but rather I was talking about 50 kangaroos."
This, he added, was part of the "jokes" he exchanged with Moulanier, who supported his campaign to become the Secretary of the Youth of the PRD.
Such discussions should not be presented in this way (on TVN and Telemetro) and must appear in court, said the lawyer and PRD member, and he challenged the complainant to prove the chat was his (from Lamphrey.)
The lawyer's explanation continued. "HD and SGR are people who I do not know," he replied when he was asked about the meaning of the initials.
For a similar case of a payment for someone to jump from one political party to another, there are those who dare to predict the outcome of the complaint filed by the PRD party member.
Aurelio Alonso, the Representative from Pajonal who denounced the bribery of Gabriel De Janon, said the Electoral Prosecutor will investigate, but he will do so in order to clear the names of those who are members of the ruling government party. (Estrella)
Editor's Comment: "50k" means "50 kangaroos". That's rich. I love it when corrupt politicians are caught red handed. They say the funniest things with a straight face, and they expect us to just believe them at their word. These guys were flat-out buying political support with cash and jobs. The really funny part is - this isn't news. It's the way the Panamanian political machine has functioned for generations.