Argentine lawmaker Juan Emilio Ameri, a member of the governing leftist Peronist Party, was attending a Zoom meeting of legislators on Thursday when the other participants noticed he was fondling a buxom blonde woman on camera.
Early reports identified her as his wife, with whom he had three children before they separated, but later she was named as his “political adviser and girlfriend” Celeste Burgos.
After unsuccessfully claiming that he was merely checking on the status of Burgos’ breast implants – in the viral video of the Zoom meeting he can be seen pulling her top down and kissing the indicated portions of her anatomy – Ameri was suspended from the legislature for inappropriate conduct. He offered to step down from his office on Thursday night.
Ameri told a local radio station he was unaware his connection to the Zoom meeting was still live, blaming his poor Internet connection for fooling him into thinking he had been disconnected.
“I’m very ashamed about what happened and I’m very sorry,” Ameri said of the disruption he created. “It was a moment of intimacy with my partner that leaked. It was serious, really, I take charge and I am very ashamed. I am very distressed by what is happening.”
“I apologize to the citizens, to my family, to my partner, for all this situation. I want to apologize to my mother, my sisters, my daughters, with whom I have not yet spoken,” he said.
The Zoom meeting was interrupted to report Ameri’s “serious offense” against “normal decorum and operation.” Ameri’s fellow parliamentarians immediately voted unanimously in favor of suspending him for 180 days, and the political coalition he belongs to has asked for his resignation.
The Argentine newspaper La Nación, in reporting on his departure from parliament, has a history of “physical as well as verbal violence” and has expressed his belief in the past that the government of the United States orchestrated the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
“On a day like today 19 years ago, the government of the U.S. decided to murder nearly 3,000 American citizens and use this as an excuse to extend its crusade in Afghanistan, to control opium production, and thus control heroin; the U.S. is the world’s biggest consumer of drugs,” he wrote on Facebook this month.
Ameri was appointed to replace now-Senator Sergio Leavy in the lower house of congress last year.
The president of the lower house of the Argentine parliament, Sergio Massa, grumbled that they have had a few members fall asleep during virtual sessions, but Ameri’s behavior “goes well beyond the normal House rules.”
The incident was all the more embarrassing because, as the Buenos Aires Times explained, Massa was one of the few parliamentarians physically present in the legislative chamber during the meeting, and everyone else appeared via a giant video screen hanging on the wall. The jumbo size of Ameri’s streaming indiscretion made it difficult to overlook.
The Buenos Aires Times reported this is “not the first time Ameri has faced controversy during his short political career.”
The previous incident involved allegations that he sexually harassed a 17-year-old female political activist just days before he began his term in office. The girl described the incident on her Facebook page, including screencaps of a chat conversation in which Ameri “attempted to seduce her.”
Ameri dismissed that story as “fake news” and said it was part of political “operations” designed to embarrass him.