Martín Insaurralde, chief of staff for Buenos Aires Governor Axel Kicillof, resigned Saturday due to a political scandal that exploded after a model shared pictures of them together on a luxury trip on a yacht in Marbella, Spain.
“Since I don’t want my image used to harm the coalition during electoral times, I presented my resignation as chief of staff of the province,” Insaurralde said in a short message to the press.
Kicillof said Sunday that he accepted Insaurralde’s resignation immediately after he presented it.
“My duty is to keep leading a government that gives its all to the people of the province,” the governor said in a post on X (formerly Twitter). “Explanations will be delivered in the appropriate spaces.”
The Buenos Aires governor also announced he will be sending a bill to the provincial Legislature to eliminate the entire chief of staff office.
“This is not about doing ‘honesty marketing’ in the middle of the electoral campaign. To us, governing is a tool to make other people’s lives better,” Kicillof said. While clarifying that its functions will be taken on by other provincial ministries, he did not provide a reason for the move.
On Saturday, model Sofia Clerici posted Instagram stories showing Insaurralde with her on a luxury yacht, claiming they were in Marbella. She also tagged Insaurralde in a short video of them having a sexually intimate encounter, which she quickly deleted.
The date of the trip is unclear yet since Clerici has been posting pictures of her in the yacht over the past week.
Insaurralde was mayor of Lomas de Zamora for 12 years, one of the most populated districts in Greater Buenos Aires, as a part of the ruling coalition Unión por la Patria (UxP). He left the mayorship in 2021 to become provincial chief of staff, replacing Carlos Bianco. Over the past decade, he has been an ally of Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and he is politically close to her son, national Deputy Máximo Kirchner.
With less than three weeks till the general election, Insaurralde was harshly criticized by his coalition and the opposition alike for allegedly being on a luxury trip a day before the presidential debate. The social media storm was made worse by the fact that Argentina’s new poverty rate was published this week, reaching 40.1% in the first semester of 2023.
JxC members Ricardo López Murphy and María Eugenia Talerico will file a formal judicial request on Monday asking for Insaurralde to be investigated for illicit enrichment and money laundering.
Kicillof’s press team told the Herald that there still isn’t a replacement for Insaurralde. They added that Kicillof and Insaurralde agreed that his resigning was the best way out of this situation.
Insaurralde is also running for Lomas de Zamora councilor. The Herald reached out to his spokespeople, as well as members of the local Peronist party, to confirm his candidacy but they did not respond to requests for comment.
Clerici posted an Instagram story on Sunday saying she was in Marbella alone to visit her sister. Without mentioning Insaurralde’s name, she said that someone went to visit her while she was there. “The boat was lent to us by my sister’s friend to sail for the day. There’s nothing wrong with a politician taking a short vacation.”
Buenos Aires politics was hit by another scandal 20 days ago. An employee of the Buenos Aires Province Chamber of Deputies and Partido Justicialista member named Julio “Chocolate” Rigau was arrested after being caught retrieving money from an ATM in La Plata using debit cards that belonged to 48 fellow employees of the provincial Legislature. He had over one million pesos in cash with him at the moment of his detention. The judiciary ordered Rigau’s release last week and annulled the investigation on the grounds that the police officers who arrested him didn’t read him his rights until they arrived at the police station.