Once again, Brazilian lawmakers are engaged in behind-the-scenes negotiations to grant amnesty to politicians who benefited from corruption. Put simply: they want to use the vote on a new anti-corruption law to grant amnesty to, well, corrupt politicians. If that sounds a bit off, it’s because it is.
Congress had already voted on anti-corruption legislation last year. However, lawmakers disfigured the project, adding articles that would curb the criminal investigation process on the part of public prosecutors. After the enormous backlash generated by the maneuver, the Supreme Court ordered the bill to return to its initial stages in the lower house.
So why would Congress try to pull the exact same thing a second time?
Because things have just gotten a bit more complicated for politicians who benefited from illegal campaign donations. That includes nearly every person elected to the Brazilian Congress. This week, the Supreme Court decided to indict senator Valdir Raupp for having accepted 500,000 BRL in illegal donations from a construction company.
This ruling is groundbreaking because, up until that point, illegally funding one’s campaign was not a criminal offense. It was merely an electoral transgression. It is why, at every corruption scandal, parties rush to say that they used the dirty money to finance campaigns.
Raupp’s case changes that picture entirely, and caused national politicians hit the panic button. Their idea to avoid criminal prosecution – and possible jail time – is to include an article about campaign funding in the anti-corruption project. The text, of course, would forgive and forget all past transgressions.
The movement to differentiate illegal campaign funding and personal enrichment from corruption began last week. In an online statement, former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso said that while both practices are wrong, they are not equally bad. We wonder what Mr. Cardoso’s suggestions would be for how a politician might prove that 100 percent of the dirty money received went straight to his campaign.
Politicians use dirty money precisely because it is untraceable.