By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – After days in limbo, Supreme Court Justice Celso de Mello announced on Tuesday that the appointment of Minister Wellington Moreira Franco to the General Secretariat of the Presidency was valid and will be maintained. Two injunctions by opposition parties had questioned the nomination.
“The appointment of someone to the post of Minister of State, provided that the requirements set forth in Article 87 of the Constitution of the Republic are met, does not in itself constitute a hypothesis of misuse of purpose,” said Mello in his decision.
The controversy arose after Brazil’s President, Michel Temer, nominated Moreira Franco to be part of his cabinet, days after he was named in the Lava Jato (Carwash) corruption investigations. Opposition parties claim that Temer is trying to shield Moreira Franco from prosecution, since cabinet members have immunity from being prosecuted by the lower courts.
In the midst of the controversy, President Temer declared that he would remove any cabinet members who become defendants in Lava Jato scandal.
“If there is a complaint, which means a set of evidence that may eventually lead to charges, the minister who is denounced in the Lava Jato will be temporarily dismissed. If the complaint is accepted, and then, the minister becomes a defendant of Lava Jato, the removal will be final,” Temer told journalists on Monday, February 13th.
The Moreira Franco controversy is very similar to the situation faced by former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Ex-President Lula was nominated by then President President Dilma Rousseff as her Chief of Staff. At the time opposition leaders alleged that the nomination had the clear intent to halt an arrest warrant for Lula from judge Sergio Moro and place the investigation of the former leader under the realm of the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court finally decided that the nomination was not valid because it constituted ‘a misuse of power’ and Lula was not able to hold the position.