A progressive Phoenix-based nonprofit announced it would invest $10 million in Arizona to rally the Latino voter base for the upcoming midterm elections. The nonprofit, Chicanos Por La Causa (CPLC), announced the $10 million campaign last Thursday.
Present at the campaign launch was Democrat gubernatorial candidate and former Obama administration official Marco Lopez, discovered in recent months to be tied to an $800 million international political bribery scandal involving a construction conglomerate.
CPLC’s political action committee (PAC) endorsed Lopez last December.
As reported, Lopez’s company received $35,000 from the construction conglomerate for several months of work on former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s 2012 campaign. The $35,000 had ties to a $3 million bribe from a shell company trading campaign money for public works contracts. A shell company from Peña Nieto’s former campaign lieutenant gave a payout to Lopez from the millions afforded by the bribe money.
Lopez denied any wrongdoing. He indicated that his opponent, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, was behind the investigative reports.
Lopez wasn’t the only controversial face present. Progressive nonprofits Mi Familia Vota (MFV) and Promise Arizona (PAZ) were there as well: they’re helping the CPLC initiative. The nonprofits aim to increase Arizona’s Latino voter base by a minimum of two percentage points, from around 14 to 16 percent.
MFV has kept busy this month. After Governor Doug Ducey approved legislation requiring proof of citizenship for voter registration, the social justice organization sued state officials. MFV received the help of Hillary Clinton’s Russiagate hoax lawyer, Marc Elias, to file the lawsuit.
PAZ has recently recovered from connections to a different scandal. Former State Senator Tony Navarrete (D-Phoenix) served as their deputy director for a decade, up until his arrest for molestation. Navarrete faces seven felony charges. According to their leadership, Navarrete apprised the nonprofit of relevant legislation.
According to the Census Bureau’s latest population estimates, about 32 percent of Arizona’s population is Hispanic or Latino: around 2.3 out of the 7.3 million people in the state.
During the 2018 midterms, there were over 3.7 million registered voters with nearly 65 percent voter turnout.
As of January, Arizona listed over 4.35 million registered voters: 34.5 percent Republican, nearly 31.4 percent Democratic, and over 33.3 percent “other.” Less than one percent registered as Libertarian.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Marco Lopez has ties to a massive foreign corruption scandal involving a global construction conglomerate Odebrecht and its bribes to politicians globally. According to an investigative report from Arizona Agenda relying on case information from anti-corruption news organization Mexicanos Contra la Corrupción y la Impunidad, Lopez’s company, Intermestic Partners/International Strategic Solutions, received $35,000 from Odebrecht for his several months of work on former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s 2012 campaign. Ultimately, Odebrecht shelled out $800 million through its secretive business department tasked with bribing all levels of government officials across the world, the “Division of Structured Operations,” earning a minimum criminal fine of $4.5 billion in 2016.
Peña Nieto’s former campaign lieutenant, Emilio Lozoya, connected Lopez’s $35,000 to a $3 million bribe from an Odebrecht shell company: campaign money for public works contracts. Lozoya’s shell business, Latin American Asia Capital Holdings, received the $3 million from Odebrecht before redistributing tens of thousands to Lopez.
According to Lozoya, the invoices that Lopez and others submitted were bogus. Lopez claimed to have worked on something called the “Colombia Project.” Lopez refused to speak with the Arizona Agenda about his ties with Odebrecht and the Peña Nieto corruption.
By all accounts, Lopez would qualify as a career politician. As a teen, Lopez served as a congressional page for former Arizona Congressman Ed Pastor. In his early 20s, Lopez worked on Al Gore’s presidential campaign. In 2001, Lopez was elected mayor of his hometown, Nogales, Arizona, becoming one of the youngest mayors in American history at the time.
Another two years after his election, former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano appointed Lopez to be the executive director of the Arizona-Mexico Commission. Lopez took on a Latin American policy advisory position within Napolitano’s cabinet. After three years, Napolitano promoted Lopez to serve as her senior advisor on foreign affairs and trade. Napolitano again promoted Lopez in 2008 to direct the Arizona Department of Commerce.
It appears Napolitano didn’t forget Lopez when the White House came to bring her into the Obama Administration in 2008. Not long after Napolitano’s appointment as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Lopez was appointed chief of staff for Customs and Border Protection (CBP). He remained in that position until 2011, before focusing his attention on business ventures of his own. That year, Lopez established the Phoenix-based business and investment advisory group linked to the Odebrecht scandal, Intermestic Partners. Additionally, Lopez began to serve as senior advisor to Forbes’ 2010-2013 richest person in the world: Carlos Slim Helu.
For a decade, Lopez abstained from taking on a political office. Then in March of last year, Lopez announced his candidacy for Arizona governor — the first to do so.
After the report broke, Lopez denied his involvement. He claimed the report was inaccurate because it was heavy with “innuendo, racial stereotypes and falsehoods.”
Indicating any knowledge of Odebrecht’s bribing operations could be a deadly maneuver. Odebrecht’s former vice president, Henrique Valladares, was found dead in his Rio de Janeiro apartment in September 2019, shortly after entering a plea bargain with state prosecutors to reveal who was in on the company’s bribing system. Valladares was one of the key informants in the case. According to state police, the cause of his death was “undetermined.”
Odebrecht was implicated following a smaller Brazilian anti-bribery investigation codenamed “Lava Jato,” or “Car Wash,” that began with the arrest of Brazil’s former national oil company executive, Nestor Cerveró.