Lawmakers say Jiménez was evasive

Members of a legislative commission said late Wednesday that Melvin Jiménez, the minister of the Presidencia, evaded their questions when he appeared before them.

Jiménez also said he would like to find out what others have told the committee, and lawmakers rescheduled his testimony until noon today.

Some legislators said that the minister accused the procuradora general de la República Ana Lorena Brenes of lying.

The committee is the Comisión Permanente Especial Control de Ingreso y Gasto Público, which took it upon itself to look into claims by the procuradora that she was offered an ambassadorship in exchange for her resignation. Her term has a bit more than a year to go. She is the nation’s lawyer but also has in her office an ethics watchdog.

The case has major political ramifications because President Luis Gullermo Solís claimed he did not know the details of the case after he returned from China last week, but Ms. Brenes revealed Wednesday that she had held a meeting with him before he made that remark. Jiménez, too, has been loath to talk to the press.

In her appearance Wednesday, Ms. Brenes basically said what already had been known: That she was approached by Daniel Soley, now an ex-vice minister, Jan. 6 and offered an ambassadorship if she would step down. The woman said she considered the offer either a threat or a bribe.

Jiménez was Soley’s boss until the vice minister suddenly resigned Saturday.

Although the situation is not of great interest to expats, the mounting scandal can color the Solís administration.  The Spanish language La Nación already editorialized that those who promised to break with traditional politics have now assumed the role of traditional politicians.

When Jiménez appeared before the committee about 9 p.m., he said that Soley only discussed institutional matters and personalities with Ms. Brenes. He denied that there was ever a threat. The minister declined to answer questions directed to him by Antonio Álvarez Desanti of the Partido Liberación Nacional. He said he needed to know other versions, presumably what others have said to the committee. That is why his appearance was rescheduled.

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