A new survey of Brazil’s current congressional members has found that over a quarter of its members are either guilty of, or being investigated for, criminal activity. Those numbers will likely rise for the new congress considering that an investigation of the previous legislature by the group Congress in Focus found that about half of its members were accused of criminality. The new survey comes as the congress considers whether to proceed with impeachment hearings for the nation’s current president, Dilma Rousseff, who faces accusations of accepting illegal campaign funding from Brazilian oil firm Petrobras.
Those in the congress that are under investigation would not be barred from taking part in any impeachment proceedings for Rousseff. That includes the presidents of both the senate and lower house of congress, who have also been accused of involvement in the Petrobras scandal, among other charges. If Rousseff is ousted following an impeachment, Eduardo Cunha, president of the lower house of congress, and accused of accepting $5 million for assisting contractors who sought Petrobras contracts, would take her place.
Petrobras is a state-backed firm that has been charged with money laundering and organized crime, behavior which is said to have occurred during Rousseff’s tenure as head of the company’s board of directors. The company has also been accused of paying politicians for contracts, in amounts totaling up to $1.6 billion.
Illustrating their overall complacency towards corruption, the Brazilian senate ruled that despite the illegal activities that took place during Rousseff’s tenure at Petrobras, there is no evidence that she benefited personally. That is, of course, if you don’t count the funds that went to her 2010 and 2014 presidential campaigns.
The revolving door between industry and politics is just as prevalent in the U.S. as in Brazil, and citizens in both countries take a dim view of their leaders on the issue. Polling in Brazil last year showed that only 14% of respondents approved of the job its congress was doing, the same percentage as in the U.S. from an August 2015 survey.