On Friday, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador dismissed a video showing one of his younger siblings taking money from a political operative, claiming that it was part of a smear operation to destroy him.
The video, which is the second in less than a year to show a president’s brother accepting money from a political operative, has provoked new criticism of Lopez Obrador from Mexico’s opposition, which he has repeatedly branded as corrupt.
The video, which was presumably shot in 2015 and released by Mexican news outlet Latinus, shows a man who eventually became a member of the Lopez Obrador government delivering Martin Jesus Lopez Obrador an envelope loaded with a massive stack of money.
“I think the intention is to do damage to me, or to try to damage me,” the president told a news conference. “It’s the perennial black campaign of my adversaries. We’re used to this. But we have always emerged unscathed from slander.”
He stated that he would not cover up for anyone and that authorities should investigate and punish any wrongdoing if any had occurred.
“However, my conscience is clear,” Lopez Obrador added.
David Leon, who Lopez Obrador nominated head of Mexico’s civil protection agency after gaining the presidency in December 2018, was seen giving his brother the cash.
Leon resigned from the cabinet last August when a separate video of him delivering money to another Lopez Obrador brother in 2015 was published. The cash was described by the president at the time as contributions from supporters.
Leon said on Twitter the money in the new video was a loan he had provided from his personal savings.
Lopez Obrador forged his reputation as a scourge of corruption, and the video leak comes three weeks ahead of a referendum over whether to investigate past political decisions that he has used to question the legacy of past presidents.
One of the former presidents, Vicente Fox, seized on the video, tweeting: “A question: are people who get their brothers to receive illicit money also going to stand trial?”
According to Latinus, the latest video was shot in 2015 just before elections in which Lopez Obrador’s political party, the leftist National Regeneration Movement (MORENA), was competing for the first time.
Lopez Obrador told the news conference the cash was not for him or any political campaign, and that he understood it was a personal matter between his brother and Leon.
The president’s popularity remains high, with most national polls showing him polling well above 50%. According to Roy Campos, president of polling firm Consulta Mitofsky, the 2020 video leak lowered his popularity rating slightly, and the current one could do the same.
But, according to Campos, Lopez Obrador has been better at changing the political narrative than the opposition has been at exploiting controversies.
After the attorney general’s office said that it was investigating a prominent former government official for alleged unlawful enrichment on Friday afternoon, media focus began to shift away from the video leak.