Ameglio challenged over petition campaign costs

Ameglio’s selfie emphasizes that he’s for God and his family.

Peñaloza finally sees a violation

by Eric Jackson

Was it the people who complained that their names appeared on Marco Ameglio’s nominating petitions, but that they didn’t sign and would not have signed? Not that, although at least 46 people, not including candidates, have been referred to the Electoral Prosecutor over bogus signatures.

Electoral Prosecutor Eduardo Peñaloza, a Ricardo Martinelli appointee who notoriously looked the other way in the tainted 2014 campaign and then argued for dismissal of all charges when the Electoral Tribunal’s own investigations led to cases being opened, finally found a case to file. Under this year’s regulations, those seeking spots on the ballot as independent presidential candidates were limited to spending no more than $2 per signature in their petition campaigns. Marco Ameglio filed an expense report of $259,763.84, all of which came from his own pocket. He submitted 355,038 signatures, of which the Electoral Tribunal accepted only 115,071 as legitimate.

Look for possible litigation about how to count and do long division, but not about the apparently massive petition fraud by Ameglio and Francisco Carreira. The latter, who came in fifth in the race for three ballot spots, submitted 245,399 signatures. The tribunal only found 70,643 of these to be valid.

Carreira admits that lists of Electoral Tribunal data (which are supposed to be confidential) were used in his petition drive. But in 2014 the use of such government data by the Martinelli campaign was disregarded by Peñaloza and the matter never got to the Electoral Tribunal or to the regular criminal justice system.

Ameglio, a former legislator and at one time president of the Panameñista Party, denies all wrongdoing and says that he will put up a vigorous legal defense.

If  Ameglio gets bumped off of the ballot, the next in line would be Dimitri Flores. That is, presuming that he doesn’t have the same problem as Ameglio or if he does will get different treatment.

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