MEXICO CITY: Mexicos electoral agency fined a state gubernatorial candidate $2.75 million, ruling that he got prohibited support from his influencer wifes social media posts.
Winning gubernatorial candidate Samuel Garca and his wife, Mariana Rodrguez, slammed that decision Thursday, claiming that regulators were treating Rodrguez like an object with a price.
The dispute has raised questions of electoral fairness, freedom of speech and womens rights. Garca won the June 6 elections to become the next governor of the northern border state of Nuevo Leon.
The couple’s supporters say a wife should be able to support her husband. The electoral agency says Rodrguez social media accounts are a business, and the law forbids businesspeople from making in-kind donations. The analogy would be if a candidate’s spouse owned a trucking or catering firm, they would be prohibited from donating food or transportation to the campaign.
Once again, this seems to me very offensive, that they want to put a price on me, Rodrguez said in a video, referring to a ruling by the National Electoral Institute, or INE, that the dozens of texts and photos she posted on social media had an aggregate value of almost $1.4 million.
Normally, authorities fine candidates or their parties twice the amount of an illegal donation to discourage the practice.
Lorenzo Crdova, the head of the institute, said Rodrguez’s posts are a donation in kind in that they gave publicity to her husband’s candidacy. That should have been considered what it was, a campaign donation, and it wasn’t reported.
Rodriguez said in a statement Thursday she was filing a complaint of sexual discrimination with the countrys National Human Rights Commission.
We women are not accessories. We are not a product or merchandise with a sticker price. The support I gave to my husband is not a donation in kind’,” she wrote. We women should not be forced by the INE or anyone else to chose between freely exercising our profession or participating with our spouses.
That is a somewhat more serious and feminist stance than Rodriguez or her husband have taken in the past. Garca, 33, is a baby-faced former senator. Rodriguez is better known for posting videos of herself giving makeup tutorials or clutching a small dog.
Most acknowledge that Rodrguezs 1.7 million followers on Instagram and 44,500 subscribers to her YouTube channel helped win the race for Garca, drawing complaints that politics in Mexico was becoming a social-media sideshow.
The couple rocketed to fame across Mexico after they posted a video of Garca and Rodrguez sitting in a car as he named the towns where they had visited on campaign stops. Rodrguez appears to ignore him and then, apparently seeking to change the subject, she turns the camera on herself and says, Do you want to see my sneakers? The focus shifts to her phosphorescent orange sneakers as Rodrguez proudly purrs Fosfo, Fosfo!
Not coincidentally, orange is the branding color of Garcas small Citizens Movement party. Rodrguez has since made her orange sneakers a trademark fashion statement.
Garca himself drew howls in largely impoverished Mexico when, describing what he called his tough upbringing, he recalled how his businessman father used to make him play golf with dad on weekends before allowing him to go out partying during his student years.
Garcia angrily noted that his fine was higher than the $2 million sanction handed out to Mexico’s Green Party, after it was proved the party actually paid social media influencers to support it.
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