Brazilian Congress Ethics Council Votes to Expel Deputy Involved in Vote Buying Scandal

The decision by members of Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies’ Ethics Council to approve a report recommending that deputy Romeu Queiroz (from the PTB party, Minas Gerais state) be deprived of his parliamentary mandate is seen as a "trend" that is expected to be repeated in the analysis of other cases.

This opinion was voiced by the president of the Council, Ricardo Izar (PTB, São Paulo). "Beginning with this vote, a trend has been established. In the eyes of the Council, having received money, regardless of where it came from and what it was for, will be enough for us to recommend punishment."

The Council is considering 11 expulsion motions related to lawmakers’ involvement in the purported monthly allowance ("mensalão") scheme.

Queiroz is charged with brokering the collection of US$ 207.2 thousand (R$ 450 thousand) for the PTB in 2003-2004. He claims that he was unaware of the illegal origin of the money, most of which was transferred by the advertising executive, Marcos Valério, at the request of the PT. He also contends that it was up to the party to report the funds.

In Queiroz’s view, by adopting a judgment "criterion," the Ethics Council runs the risk of committing errors. "The Council wants to use the existence of unreported campaign funds (‘caixa 2’) as a criterion for other cases.

I did not use ‘caixa 2’ funds," he argues. "Even so, every case is different. I don’t believe that everybody should be punished in the same way. Society is demanding punishment of those who were guilty, not the innocent," he adds.

Deputy Carlos Sampaio (PSDB, São Paulo), who is a member of the Council, disagrees with the conclusion that, beginning with Queiroz’s case, the Ethics Council will treat the other cases in an identical manner.

"We are mindful that each case is different – and that they should be analyzed individually," he states.

He acknowledges, however, that the unlawful activity practiced by Queiroz could be characterized as the creation of a "caixa 2" for electoral campaigns.

"The classic instance of a ‘caixa 2’ is when the funds are for the campaign of the deputy who raises them. But deputy Romeu Queiroz’s case is also one of ‘caixa 2,’ only, in this case, for the party. Both activities are blameworthy and reproachable, but they are distinct," he affirmed.

Agência Brasil

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