It was no coincidence that Jair Bolsonaro appointed a pastor at the head of the Ministry of Education in the second year of his reign. The president offered religious groups an ideological platform and influence over millionaires’ dealings with public money. In return, she could strengthen her ties to the evangelical segment and enjoy the political benefits of that relationship.
The alliance has reproduced the distributional logic that Bolsonaro has always tried to hide. Suspicions of corruption by former minister Milton Ribeiro and the pastors who ran the business department at MEC show that one of the president’s main political support groups was very well served in terms of access to the public treasury.
Bolsonaro’s own signature is on the partnership agreement. In a note released Sheet in March, Ribeiro said he would respond to the president’s “special request” and prioritize the release of funds through the mediation of the pastors.
Bolsonaro and the former minister have never denied this connection between the defendants and the president. Ribeiro even said that the chief only asked that the pastors be received by the government, but this excuse did not improve the situation: the duo visited the MEC more than 100 times and another 45 times at the Planalto Palace.
PF is investigating whether the pastors used this access to facilitate the release of public funds in exchange for a bribe. The mayor accuses the couple of asking for the gold bar to funnel the funds.
Ribeiro’s arrest hit Bolsonaro because the former minister is a known link between the captain and the pastors. There is no indication that the president received any money from the scheme, but it will be difficult to completely remove him from the crime scene if corruption is proven.
The scandal should not shake the strong relationship between Bolsonaro and evangelical leaders, but it does shatter the president’s anti-corruption rhetoric. The scheme of shepherds is no different from those implemented by political parties.