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Johnny Araya’s and Otto Guevara’s campaigns overspend in the last election

May 26, 2014

The National Liberation Party (PLN) spent $1.85 million more than it can cover in the last election, while the Libertarian Movement Party (ML) found itself in a $794,000 hole.

Figures obtained from the Supreme Elections Tribunal (TSE) on Monday showed that PLN and ML were the only two of the five major parties to have a post-election deficit. Former San José mayor Johnny Araya was the presidential nominee for PLN, and lost in a runoff to Luis Guillermo Solís in April. Otto Guevara was ML’s nominee, and came in fourth place in the first round of the presidential race in February. He now serves as a lawmaker in the Legislative Assembly.

The three other main parties, Solís’ Citizen Action Party, the Broad Front Party (FA) and the Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC), all spent less than their share of public money and privately raised funds. Costa Rican elections are funded primarily by public financing in recent years. For example, in the 2010 election won by PLN’s Laura Chinchilla, public funding covered 83 percent of her party’s expenses.

Parties receive public money based on the share of votes they receive on Election Day. Both PLN and ML performed substantially worse than pre-election polls had forecast.

The head of the TSE’s finance department, Ronald Chacón, explained that these are preliminary figures. Chacón said the parties will have until June 5 to report their official finances to the TSE, with PLN given an extension to Aug. 7 due to campaigning in a presidential runoff.

The treasurer for PLN, Alex Sibaja, said that he was not in agreement with the TSE’s figure, and that the party was in the process of calculating its own numbers.

“The number we have is much, much less than that,” Sibaja said in a phone interview.

ML did not respond to a request for comment at press time.

Earlier this month, TSE figures revealed that PAC spent approximately one-quarter of what PLN spent in the last election. More up-to-date figures from the TSE show that PAC spent approximately half of what the PLN spent.

The National Restoration Party (RN) also found itself in debt after the election. Presidential candidate Justo Orozco, a conservative evangelical, also is under investigation for allegations that he misused public funds and resources to conduct private business during the campaign.

Corey Kane/The Tico Times
Available funds refers to privately raised contributions and money from the government. Numbers in parentheses in the debt column indicate that the campaign spent less money than it is entitled to. Figures from the Supreme Elections Tribunal (TSE). Corey Kane/The Tico Times

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