A large part of the Vox deputies skip the obligations that parliamentarians have when they make the declaration of economic interests that Congress has required of them since the approval of the 2020 code of ethics. Of them, 11 have not even filled out the information requested about what activities they have carried out in the previous five years. to obtain the deputy certificate (which they obtained after the elections last June 23).
The majority of Vox deputies who hide their activities justify it by saying that they will act “at the service of Spain”
The majority of these deputies, among whom is even the president of the party, Santiago Abascalthey omit what activities they have carried out and replace it with a generic text that ensures the following: “None of the activities carried out by me during the five years prior to obtaining the parliamentary mandate may condition my political activity as long as it is It will always be developed at the service of Spain and the Spanish people“.
The Code of Conduct of the Cortes Generales requires that in this section, which is the first of the declaration of economic interests that deputies and senators must fill out, it is indicated both activities “that may condition their political activity” and those that “have provided them with economic income”. Even so, these 11 extreme right deputies do not detail having carried out any activity for which they have been paid.
The majority—eight of the 11—have filled out this section in an almost identical way, although with small variations in the writing of the paragraphs. Changes are usually limited to a couple of words or expressions. In addition to the text in which they declare their “service” to Spain, they usually indicate the following: “As for the activities that have provided me with economic income, I refer to what is stated in my respective declarations of activities and assets formalized at the time. to accredit myself before the House”.
What these deputies forget is that These other statements they present do not include the activities they have carried out in the last five years. In the property and income section, parliamentarians have to indicate the activities that have generated income in the previous year and in the activities section, those they currently carry out and want to make compatible with their work in the Cortes.
45% hide some information
The Three other deputies who do not provide information in this section have left it completely empty. They are Emilio Jesús del Valle and Pablo Sáez — who indicate one of those texts at the end of their statement in the “other interests” section, but the rest, including activities, they leave completely empty — and Manuel Mariscal — who does not He has filled out absolutely nothing in his statement.
Among the other eight there is also a parliamentarian who has left his statement almost completely empty. It is Ignacio Hoces, who begins its declaration with the generic text about the activities, but then does not fill in any other section.
Manuel Mariscal has presented a declaration of interests in which he has not written a single comma
The statement by Mariscal, responsible for the party’s communication, is the most flagrant non-compliance of the 11 indicated. He has delivered it without writing a single comma on it. But these deputies are not the only ones from Vox who have omitted information in their declaration of interests.
Several Vox deputies hide which entities they make donations to
Others do not hide their activities, but they do They use a generic formula to avoid having to specify the recipients of their donations, despite the fact that the Code of Conduct requests that declarations of interests detail “the foundations and other associations to which they have contributed in the five years prior to acquiring the status of parliamentarian.” To this end, these parliamentarians write in their statement that they “small contributions to social aid charities” or similar formulas, but without detailing what those entities are specifically.
This formula has been used Rocío de Meer, Ricardo Chamorro, Lourdes Méndez and María de los Reyes Romero. Some of them indicate donations to Vox or a specific organization but then they include the rest in that generic formula.
There are deputies who, in addition to hiding the activities they have carried out, omit in their declaration the donations they have made using the same generic formula as these four. This is the case of Tomás Fernández, Javier Ortega Smith or Andrés Alberto Rodríguez. Between those who hide their activities and those who do the same with donations, there are a total of 15 deputies. 45.45% of the entire parliamentary group.
48.39% of Vox deputies whose declaration of interests has been published hide information
This percentage rises to 48.39% if only the 31 extreme right deputies whose declaration of interests is public are taken into account. Those of Alberto Asarta and José María Figaredo are not yet published on the Congress website. This may be because they have not yet been presented or because the Lower House still has them pending qualification and publication, as confirmed by Congress to Public. The institution does not clarify which of the two circumstances occurs in these cases and Vox has not responded to this media’s questions.
Vox, against from the beginning
The far-right party was opposed to this new declaration from the beginning, when the Congress and Senate Boards approved the Code of Conduct for parliamentarians in 2020 — which included this new obligation. As explained The country, The only vote against was that of deputy Ignacio Gil Lázaro, the only representative of Vox in these bodies.
The ethical code was approved to comply with the recommendations of the Group of States against Corruption of the Council of Europe (GRECO), that deputies and senators be governed by the same regulations for those situations in which the work of parliamentarians may incur a conflict of interest (economic, personal…) and improve the transparency of the Cortes.
Vox defended that the new statement undermined “the presumption of honorability of the members of the Chambers”
Gil Lázaro defended on behalf of Vox that the new regulations were really a “code of suspicion” and that the new declaration undermined “the presumption of honorability of the members of the Chambers,” as he explained The country. A Vox parliamentarian in the previous legislature explains to Public that the opposition to this new ethical code for the deputies was Gil Lázaro himself and that From the party leadership, they were given an instruction for everyone to fill out their declarations of economic interests with those same generic texts..
In fact, those formulas that only some of the far-right deputies have used in this new legislature are the same as those used by the 52 seats of Vox in the previous legislature. The Conflict of Interest Office of the Cortes Generalesin its first report, corresponding to the year 2021, already alerted about the problem of leaving sections of the declaration empty or filling it in with generic and identical formulas between party colleagues, as Vox was doing.
Despite the warning, some of the far-right deputies have continued to repeat these formulas. Although several, especially those entering Congress for the first time, have filled out the declarations under other criteria. In fact, there are even cases like that of Carlos Flores Juberías, who has begun his statement with the generic formula that ensures that the activities he has carried out will not condition his parliamentary work, but then details what they have been, as requested by the normative.
There is nothing wrong with failing to comply.
The experts consulted by Public agree on the importance of this declaration to be able to supervise the way in which public officials act. Joaquín Meseguer, coordinator of the transparency and access to public information working group of the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces (FEMP), explains to Public that the information requested by this new regulation “is justified by the need to prevent possible conflicts of interest.”
“If we know information such as which organizations they donate to, it is easier to detect possible conflicts of interest”
Doctor of Law and Transparency expert Miguel Ángel Blanes agrees with the same. The specialist details to this medium that “Deputies must refrain from intervening or making decisions in matters in which they have any kind of interest. to avoid favoring third parties.” “If we know information such as which organizations they donate to, it is easier to detect possible conflicts of interest.”
The problem is that incomplete statements by deputies are accepted equally than those that are well filled. In fact, the Code of Conduct does not even specify the level of detail parliamentarians must go to. This is recognized by Congress itself in conversation with Public: “The Chamber assists the deputies with their doubts about how to fill out the declarations, but it is their responsibility to decide what level of detail they provide.“.
The Code of Conduct talks about infractions and sanctions, but does not establish them and in practice they are not imposed
What the Code does do is grant the presidency of Congress the possibility of requesting the opening of an investigation so that the Commission on the Statute of Deputies – made up of a deputy from each parliamentary group – can resolve any possible infraction by a deputy. But The regulations also do not establish which non-compliance should be considered infractions or what sanctions must be imposed..
This has meant that in practice deputies who have hidden information or have breached the Code of Conduct have not been sanctioned. There is no precedent, at least for now. In fact, Unidas Podemos in the previous legislature requested that a file be opened against the Vox deputies for not adequately filling out the declaration of interests using those generic formulas, but the request came to nothing.