BRASILIA, Brazil — The Brazilian government’s integrity commission has recommended that federal police begin charging right-wing presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro with corruption and other crimes in the probe into the supposed pay-to-play culture within Brazil’s political party system.
The recommendation on Wednesday came less than two weeks before the presidential vote on Oct. 7. It was handed down by the nine-member commission, made up of three congressional representatives, two political party chairmen and six public officials, said the head of the commission, congressman Paulo Andre Sobrinho.
Bolsonaro, a congressman for decades, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, and no prosecution has occurred to date. He leads national polls ahead of the election, which also includes right-leaning Geraldo Alckmin, who placed second in the 2014 election, leftist Ciro Gomes and Marina Silva, a former governor with her own party.
The Integrity Commission, known as CNCI, is the parliamentary body tasked with keeping an eye on alleged corruption in the executive branch. On Wednesday, it recommended the expulsion of four congressmen with an alleged link to the ruling Workers’ Party, including the former speaker of the lower house who has been in charge of drafting the defense laws for Bolsonaro’s presidential campaign. He has acknowledged receiving campaign donations from former dictator Fernando Collor de Mello.
At the same time, he is undergoing two separate trials for corruption, including over the misuse of campaign funds.
According to CNCI, the first trial of Collor involved public money used to pay for his presidential campaigns and that the second trial is aimed at bribery. Collor is expected to deliver his final arguments in court after Brazil’s Supreme Court rejected his request for a temporary stay of the trial, which began on July 17.
The other two suspended congressmen, including Eduardo Cunha, who was the president of the lower house between 2014 and 2016, will also face prosecution in a later hearing in the Collor case.
Bolsonaro said on Twitter on Wednesday that he supports “impeachment proceedings against the transgressors of the law and those in power who enjoy freedom, while his party members are unfairly being judged.”
In the last few months, the Brazilian media has contributed with reporting about major figures from Rousseff’s former administration and the top party officials in the country.
The federal police’s current Operation Car Wash investigation started in 2014 and has revealed the alleged transfer of political favors in exchange for graft and kickbacks. In 2017, the investigation uncovered a culture of corruption among political parties, and officials charged nearly 700 individuals in the investigations, the largest corruption cases in the country’s history.
The newly launched Car Wash – Law Enforcement Review Process can take up to a year and can recommend pending charges to federal prosecutors, who have the right to charge people within 30 days. Brazilians can also order the dismantling of Brazilian political parties and rallies for Bolsonaro’s impeachment.