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8 of Brazil’s cabinet members investigated for corruption

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Among those authorized to be investigated for corruption by Supreme Court Justice Edson Fachin, are eight of President Michel Temer’s cabinet members. The main accusations against them are corruption and money laundering. If they are charged, Temer has already said he would remove them from their positions, reported The Rio Times (Brasilia).

“If the complaint is accepted, and then, the minister becomes a defendant of Lava Jato, the removal will be final,” Temer told journalists in February 2017.

Among those to be investigated are two of President Temer’s closest aides, Chief of Staff Eliseu Padilha, and the General Secretariat to the Presidency, Wellington Moreira Franco.

Both are accused of asking for illegal resources to pay for PMDB election campaigns. The two were cited in the testimonies of six former Odebrecht executives, including the former CEO of the conglomerate, Marcelo Odebrecht.

While Moreira Franco refused to comment on the latest accusations, in a statement, Padilha said he would only speak after obtaining a copy of what was said about him.

In any case, Padilha told journalists that the Supreme Court investigation into dozens of politicians and high officials would not hinder the on-going operations of the Administration.
“We do not think it will disrupt the welfare reform,” Padilha was quoted as saying to a government news outlet.

The other six ministers to be investigated for corruption include Foreign Minister Aloysio Nunes, Minister of Cities, Bruno Araújo, and Minister of Agriculture, Blairo Maggi.
Also Minister of National Integration, Helder Barbalho, Minister of Industry and Foreign Trade, Marcos Antônio Pereira, and Minister of Science and Technology, Gilberto Kassab.

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When the Supreme Court ordered investigations against 108 politicians – from all the main parties -, it ignited a debate around next year’s general election. Which presidential hopefuls – if any – will get to 2018 as competitive candidates? – reported Plus55 (Brasilia).

After all, the latest scandal in Brazilian politics hasn’t spare any of the major parties. Everybody got dirty money from Odebrecht to illegally finance their campaigns. In exchange, politicians acted like lobbyists for the company in Congress. Besides, some of the presidential candidates were personally hit and are now under investigation.

Since 1994, the presidential election was disputed between the Workers’ Party, at the left of the center, and PSDB, a center-right group.

PSDB’s three last presidential candidates are now under investigation. The Federal Prosecutor’s Office accuses them of benefiting from illegal campaign funds and accepting bribes.

Senators José Serra and Aécio Neves, who ran for president in 2010 and 2014, respectively, are all but out of the race. São Paulo’s Governor Geraldo Alckmin, the party’s candidate in 2006, is also in a difficult situation.

In the Workers’ Party, which occupied the presidency between 2003 and 2016, former Presidents Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff are under scrutiny. According to former Odebrecht executives, the company set aside $13 million (40 million BRL) to pay for Lula’s expenses once he left the presidency. The money came from contracts between Odebrecht and Petrobras.

During Dilma Rousseff’s presidency, the Ministry of Finance became a corruption center. Former Finance Minister Guido Mantega allegedly asked for 50 million BRL to pass a piece of legislation renegotiating the fiscal debt of an Odebrecht subsidiary.

Who’s not on the list?
At this point, not being under investigation becomes an asset more important than the candidates’ program. In PSDB, São Paulo’s Mayor João Doria surfaces as the leading man. Doria acted quickly to capitalize on the scandal, saying that it hit the “political class” as a whole. But the Mayor is not a politician, according to his marketing team. He’s an administrator.

Other potential right-wing candidates are Salvador’s Mayor Antonio Carlos Magalhães Neto and Senator Ronaldo Caiado. Despite being mainstream politicians, they are not under investigation.
Among the top candidates during the 2014 race, only Marina Silva (3rd place) has escaped the scandal. But she has limited electoral potential.

If Lula’s candidacy is damaged, then radical Ciro Gomes becomes the most competitive name on the left. However, the mercurial politician could have problems to form a coalition.

Last but not least, the radical right-winger Jair Bolsonaro gained from the scandal. His name is not on any list of politicians who received bribes. Bolsonaro also surfs on the anti-establishment wave that the case generates.

If we haven’t spoken about President Michel Temer’s party, PMDB, is because this political family is compromised from top to bottom. The President himself took part in shady deals, but he enjoys “temporary immunity.” Meaning: he can’t face charges for crimes committed before his inauguration.
At this point, PMDB serves more as a hidden ally in a supporting role.

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