By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – More than 41 percent of donations made to political candidates in this year’s October municipal elections were irregular, says Brazil’s Electoral Court (TSE). In terms of values, the TSE announced that R$1.3 billion out of a total of R$3.4 billion of donations are being questioned.
According to the TSE, an investigation by the court found that approximately 403,000 donations of a total of 965,000 registered some irregularities.
Through cross-referencing donor data with data from IRS records, it was discovered that many donations were registered by unemployed persons and people included in social programs like Bolsa Familia (Family Aid).
“The IRS, in possession of the data provided by the TSE, has performed data analysis and cross-referencing with other tax elements available in our databases. This comparison has allowed us to identify and qualify indications of irregularities that characterize campaign expenditures in values higher than legally permitted,” said IRS secretary, Jorge Rachid during a press conference on Monday.
In this year’s municipal elections, parties and political candidates were required to comply with a new rule that meant sending data on donations and campaign expenses to the Electoral Court every 72 hours. The new law bans corporate donations and donations by individuals were limited to ten percent of the donor’s income for the previous year.
According to government officials, among the types of irregularities identified were donors with no economic capacity to donate declared values, donations made in the name of deceased persons, donations made by individuals as a way to camouflage donations from legal entities, and donations made by public servants in values above their economic capacity.
During the press conference, Electoral Court President Gilmar Mendes also announced that the request for an investigation into the Dilma-Temer ticket, which was victorious in the 2014 Presidential elections, may be reviewed by the Court during the first half of 2017.
“I am estimating that, if the current [political] situation is maintained, we can review the issue during the first half [of the year],” said Mendes. He noted, however, that if there is delay in the Lava Jato [Carwash] scandal that provides further relevant information for the TSE, then the process will be transferred to the second half of the year.
In December 2014, campaign accounts of the campaign of the then-president Dilma Rousseff and her vice-president, Michel Temer, were approved with reservations by the TSE. The case was reopened because opposition party, PSDB, questioned the decision.