Teddy Bautista failed in his effort to make a comeback at SGAE, the troubled Spanish Authors Society, which held its board elections on Oct. 26. Bautista, who was arrested seven years ago in a federal sting operation and charged with misappropriation of funds, ran for a seat and possible return to the presidency while still awaiting trial in the case, which authorities say cost the organization 20 million euros (almost $26 million) and for which he could be sentenced to seven years in prison.
In the end, Bautista did not get enough votes to bring him back to SGAE.
The 35 members of the new board include flamenco guitarist Josemi Carmona, Grammy-winning conductor José de Eusebio, Asturian gaita player Hevia and rock singer Huecco.
The 18,970 members of the rights organization with the right to vote in the elections turned out in the lowest numbers ever. Only 1,373, or 7.25% percent voted.
Before the elections, 15 musicians who were on the docket withdrew their candidacies for the board because electronic voting was not permitted. Artists well-known in Spain including Kiko Veneno, Jota (Juan Rodríguez) from the group Los Planetas and singer Sole Gimenez also urged their fellow members to refrain from voting. Members were permitted to vote in person or by mail.
SGAE has been dogged by problems which have heated up since the summer of 2017, when Spanish agents again raided the organization’s Madrid headquarters, and arrested 18 people suspected of involvement in “the wheel,” a royalty scam involving late night television. This year, the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) revealed its “serious concerns” about SGAE’s conflicts of interest, “distorted and inequitable distribution of royalties” and “lack of regard for the common good” in a 65-page report issued in May. Multinational publishing companies Warner/Chappell, peermusic and EMI Songs have threatened to pull their catalogues from SGAE after they were all ejected from the entity’s board.
The SGAE administration has also been at odds with Spain’s Ministry of Cutlure, which has threatened to intervene and take over the running of the organization. And SGAE is undergoing an audit to investigate possible errors in hundreds of publishing contracts registered with the rights society, according to Spanish newspaper El Pais. Last week, Spain’s Minister of Culture, José Guirao, warned that SGAE is “on the road to disaster,” adding that the government’s cultural department will do everything possible so that the organization “obeys the law.”