Furor over vice minister will result in a hearing in the legislature

Despite the resignation of a vice minister, lawmakers will consider their investigation of any offer made to Ana Lorena Brenes Esquivel.

She is the nation’s lawyer and has issued several opinions that directly contradict the aims of the Luis Guillermo Solís administration.

The former vice minister is Daniel Soley Gutiérrez. He resigned his post as vice minister of the Presidencia Saturday.

Last week the Spanish-language La Nación revealed that Soley had met with Ms. Brenes. She is the procuraduría general de la República. The newspaper reported that Soley offered the woman an ambassadorship if she would quit her job. She has more than a year to go in the legal position, basically that of the government’s lawyer.

The implication was that the president wanted to appoint someone who would issue legal opinions the way he wanted.

The revelation caused an uproar among lawmakers.

Sunday the minister of the Presidencia, Melvin Jiménez, said he would be happy to appear before lawmakers to answer questions.

Jiménez told Henry Mora, the president of the legislature in a letter that the public had an absolute right to know the details of the encounter between Soley and Ms. Brenes.

So far Soley has not said if he was acting on behalf of Jiménez or the president when he met with Ms. Brenes. The issue is important because it goes to the core of the promise by the administration to act with total transparency.

Ms. Brenes issued an opinion that the Costa Rican Constitution prevents the naming of  Jiménez as minister of the Presidencia. He is a Lutheran bishop, and the Constitution forbids the appointment of clergy.  In a politically motivated decision, the Sala IV constitutional court sided with the president, but one magistrate said that Jiménez was barred from holding the job.

Ms. Brenes also did not agree that the president had the power to lift a veto that had been imposed years earlier by then-president Óscar Arias Sánchez. That involved the occupation of a street at the Plaza de la Democracia by the artisans market. That lifting of the veto is being appealed to the Sala IV by the municipality.

Solis later lifted a veto by former president Laura Chinchilla that allowed a proposed revision of the labor code to go into effect. Then he issued a decree freezing some aspects that were considered politically controversial until the legislature studied the matter. That action also is being challenged in court.

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