Senator Chico Rodrigues (DEM-RR) is one of the politicians who most managed to free money from amendments in 2020. Until this Tuesday (10/13), the government of Jair Bolsonaro (without a party) committed R $ 15,637,645, 00 in amendments of the Roraima, making him the eighth senator with more money released.
Rodrigues was the target this Wednesday (10/14) of a joint operation of the Comptroller General of the Union (CGU) and the Federal Police to investigate deviations of funds destined to fight the pandemic of the new coronavirus. The embezzled money would have come precisely from parliamentary amendments, according to the Federal Police.
The alleged scheme would have diverted up to R $ 20 million in public funds through fraudulent bids, according to investigators.
Parliamentary amendments are modifications suggested by senators to the Union’s budget. They are generally used by politicians to direct resources to places where they have votes.
They can be used to fund public services (such as a health center, a school) or for investments (such as paving a street).
In this case, the resources were managed by the state health department of Roraima, and should be used to purchase protective equipment and tests to detect covid-19. The investigation pointed out the direction of bidding for specific companies, overprice and overpricing in hiring.
CGU and PF did not disclose what Chico Rodrigues’ role would be in the alleged scheme.
Of the 81 senators, only seven had more resources released in 2020 than Chico Rodrigues. Who else had committed resources was the President of the House, Davi Alcolumbre (DEM-AP), with R $ 15.9 million. Next come Jayme Campos (DEM-MT) and Angelo Coronel (PSD-BA), also with R $ 15.9 million.
In the case of Chico Rodrigues, the ministries that released the most funds were Defense (with R $ 7.2 million committed) and Health, with R $ 8.1 million.
In the case of the Ministry of Health, the R $ 8.1 million allocated by Chico Rodrigues should have gone to the “temporary increase in the cost of primary health care services”. Unlike Defense, in the case of Health, resources have already been committed and paid for.
The operation launched this Wednesday was named Desvid-19 and included the execution of seven search and seizure warrants in the city of Boa Vista (RR), among them the home of Senator Chico Rodrigues in the capital of Roraima.
Almost R $ 30,000 were found there, and part of the money bills would be between the senator’s buttocks. The flagrant was registered by the PF in photos and videos, but the material was not disclosed.
On the afternoon of Thursday (10/15), the Minister of the Supreme Federal Court Luís Roberto Barroso ordered Chico Rodrigues out of office. Now, the Senate plenary needs to decide whether to referendum or not. Before Barroso’s decision, Jair Bolsonaro had determined Rodrigues’s removal from the post of deputy government leader in the Senate, which happened earlier this Thursday afternoon. market.
In a note, Rodrigues stated that he will prove that he has “nothing to do with any illegal act”. “I believe in the justice of men and in divine justice. For this reason, I am calm with the fact that occurred today at my residence in Boa Vista, capital of Roraima”.
According to him, his home was “invaded for just doing my job as a parliamentarian, bringing resources to fight the covid-19 for the health of the state”. In the case of Defense, the money is intended for the “implementation of basic infrastructure in the municipalities in the region of the Calha Norte Program”. This area covers 15 municipalities in Roraima, State of the senator.
Throughout the pandemic, several police operations reached state governments accused of embezzlement fighting disease. But this is the first time that investigations have spilled into the federal government.
Proximity to Bolsonaro and government officials
With a long career in politics, Chico Rodrigues is very close to President Bolsonaro.
The two lived for two decades in Congress, where they became friends. After being elected president, Bolsonaro chose Chico as one of the deputy leaders of his government in the Senate. The senator, in turn, gave a job to a cousin close to the president’s children.
In a video that circulates on social networks, Rodrigues says: “I want to thank my friend Jair Bolsonaro, 20 years old as Chamber of Deputies, since those old days of…”, when he is interrupted by Bolsonaro: “It’s almost a stable union, huh, Chico? (laughs). ”
Since July, the senator has published photos on his social networks of meetings with Bolsonaro, the vice president of the Republic, Hamilton Mourão, and ministers Ernesto Araújo (Foreign Affairs), Onyx Lorenzoni (Citizenship), Luiz Ramos (Secretary of Government), Jorge Oliveira (General Secretariat of the Presidency), as well as Mario Frias (Special Secretariat for Culture).
In his postings with federal authorities, Rodrigues generally deals with matters related to Roraima, such as the arrival of Venezuelans in the State and the construction of the Linhão de Tucuruí, which was supposed to interconnect the power grid between Manaus and Boa Vista, but does not leave the paper for cause of impasses about the impact on indigenous lands.
In 2019, Rodrigues was invited by the president to join the presidential delegation that visited Israel. In a video recorded shortly before the trip, colleague Flávio Bolsonaro (PRB-RJ) states: “It is a great honor for us to have you here in our team. (…) We count a lot on your experience during this government So, it is an important reinforcement for the team “.
As deputy leader, Chico Rodrigues had the role of speaking on behalf of the government and helping the government’s leader in the Senate, Fernando Bezerra Coelho (MDB-PE), to guide government senators during the plenary votes, in addition to eventually replacing the leader in your absences.
In addition to the post of deputy government leader in the Senate, he also employed adviser Leonardo Rodrigues de Jesus, known as Léo Índio, who is the cousin of Bolsonaro’s three oldest children in his office. The position has a gross salary of R $ 22.9 thousand, and in September this year, Léo Índio took home R $ 16.9 thousand net.
Appointed to the post in April 2019, he is the son of a sister to Rogéria Nantes, the president’s first wife. He lived for a period with his cousin Carlos Bolsonaro, and served as his informal adviser at the Rio City Hall until he was allocated to Rodrigues’ office.
At the time of the hiring, the senator said that Léo Índio had not been appointed by the Bolsonaros. “The choice was made by experience and articulation in the political environment, and that seemed to me to be very useful for our mandate,” he said.
Léo Índio has already been subject to breach of confidentiality in the investigation that investigates suspicions of a cracking scheme in the office of today’s Senator Flávio Bolsonaro (Republicanos-RJ). “Rachadinha” is the illegal practice in which advisors return part of the wages to the politician who employs them. There is no formal charge against Léo Índio in this case, and Flávio Bolsonaro denies any wrongdoing.
Investigations and dirty record
Throughout his political career, Chico Rodrigues was elected for five terms as a federal deputy, between 1991 and 2011, four by the PTB and one by the DEM, party to which he is currently affiliated.
The investigation launched this week is not the first involving Rodrigues.
In 2014, he was vice-governor of Roraima for the PSB and came to govern the state for a few months after the departure of José de Anchieta (PSDB), who resigned to run for the Senate.
Chico, however, was eventually removed from office by the Regional Electoral Court (TRE) that same year, due to irregular spending in the election campaign. The decision was confirmed by the Superior Electoral Court (TSE).
He became a dirty record, but was eventually authorized by the Electoral Court to run in the Senate in 2018.
Rodrigues was also sanctioned by the Federal Audit Court (TCU) because of improper promotions by Fire Department officers during the period in which he ruled Roraima. Despite its name, TCU is an advisory body to Congress, and is not part of the Judiciary.
In the middle of the past decade, he was investigated for irregularities in accountability with parliamentary fuel expenditures, in the scandal that became known as Farra dos Combustíveis.
Rodrigues even admitted that he recorded expenses of another nature in the fuel line, which would not issue invoices. He ended up acquitted.
In the note released after this week’s operation, Rodrigues said: “I have a clean past and a decent life. I have never been involved in scandals of any size. If there have been lawsuits against me in the past, it has been proven in court that I am innocent. In life public is like that, and during my 30 years in politics, I met a lot of bad people in order to tarnish my image “.
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