AP

Former education minister in Brazil is jailed in graft probe

Jun 22, 2022, 9:49 AM | Updated: 3:21 pm

BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — A former Brazilian education minister of President Jair Bolsonaro was arrested Wednesday in connection with a federal police corruption investigation, further hurting the far-right leader’s bid for reelection.

Milton Ribeiro left the post in March after Brazilian media reported leaked conversations of him with mayors who would allegedly be favored by the federal government in the distribution of the agency’s budget. He was appointed to the position in July 2020.

The leaked conversations reported by Brazilian media showed in March that Ribeiro had two Evangelical pastors as unofficial intermediaries approaching mayors who could help Bolsonaro’s campaign. The former minister is an Evangelical pastor himself.

Both favored municipalities governed by their allies and demanded bribes, including a kilo of gold, the reports said.

Ribeiro is accused of influence peddling, corruption, prevarication, and administrative advocacy – meaning under Brazilian law he could have used his ministerial job to promote private interests.

The former minister denied any wrongdoing when the scandal broke. His lawyer, Daniel Bialski, said in a statement that Ribeiro’s arrest was “unjust, uncalled for and unnecessary.”

Bolsonaro, who at the time said he would “put his face to the fire” for Ribeiro, changed his narrative after his former minister was jailed.

“If he is guilty, he will pay,” Bolsonaro said in a radio interview. “Let him answer for his actions. I pray to God that there is no problem. But if there is a problem, the federal police are investigating. It’s a sign that I don’t interfere with the federal police because it would be staining me, obviously.”

Brazil’s president is facing an uphill battle for his reelection. Former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva leads all polls for October’s vote. He hopes to return to the job he had between 2003-2010.

Mario Sérgio Lima, a senior Brazil analyst for Medley Global Advisors, said the accusations against Ribeiro put Bolsonaro yet again in a defensive position and hurt his chances with conservative voters who are not in his hardcore base and used to see his anti-corruption narrative as a plus.

“These voters could be demobilized by this. And the more absent voters on election day, the better are the chances of the front-runner winning the election without a runoff,” Lima said in a phone interview. “It could also bring another impact: Moderate allies might step away from him. He has lost a big talking point against Lula.”

In one of the recordings, Ribeiro told mayors that Bolsonaro had asked him to prioritize mayors appointed by the two clerics. Brazil’s president denied any connection with the case.

In a statement released on its website on Wednesday, Brazil’s federal police said that 13 search and seizure warrants had been issued and five people were under arrest in the case. Police did not say whether the two pastors mentioned in the recordings have been jailed.

Conservative lawmaker Marco Feliciano, a close ally of Bolsonaro’s and an Evangelical pastor himself, said on Twitter that one of the two religious leaders linked to Ribeiro had been jailed.

“The arrest of pastor Gilmar Santos, a man I always had respect and admiration for as a preacher, causes profound embarrassment for us. All we can do is to wait for the investigations,” Feliciano said.

Many adversaries of the president said in their social media channels they will push for a congressional inquiry on the spending of Brazil’s education ministry under Bolsonaro.

___

Associated Press writer Mauricio Savarese in Sao Paulo contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

This satellite image from Planet Labs PBC shows Iran's nuclear site in Isfahan, Iran, April 4, 2024...

Associated Press

Israel, Iran play down apparent Israeli strike. The muted responses could calm tensions — for now

Israel and Iran are both playing down an apparent Israeli airstrike near a major air base and nuclear site in central Iran.

1 day ago

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., talks to reporters just after lawmakers pushed a $95 bill...

Associated Press

Ukraine, Israel aid advances in rare House vote as Democrats help Republicans push it forward

The House pushed ahead Friday on a foreign aid package of $95 billion for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and other sources of humanitarian support.

1 day ago

southern Arizona rancher George Alan Kelly...

Associated Press

Trial of a southern Arizona rancher charged in fatal shooting of unarmed migrant goes to the jury

Closing arguments were made against a southern Arizona rancher accused of shooting an undocumented migrant on his land to death on Thursday.

2 days ago

Donald Trump's hush money trial: 12 jurors selected...

Associated Press

Although 12 jurors were picked for Donald Trump’s hush money trial, selection of alternates is ongoing

A jury of 12 people was seated Thursday in former President Donald Trump's hush money trial. The proceedings are close to opening statements.

2 days ago

A anti-abortion supporter stands outside the House chamber, Wednesday, April 17, 2024, at the Capit...

Associated Press

Democrats clear path to bring proposed repeal of Arizona’s near-total abortion ban to a vote

Democrats in the Arizona Senate cleared a path to bring a proposed repeal of the state’s near-total ban on abortions to a vote.

3 days ago

Most Americans are sleepy new Gallup poll finds...

Associated Press

Most Americans say they don’t get enough sleep, according to new Gallup poll

A new Gallup poll found that most Americans are sleepy — or, at least, they say they are. Multiple factors play into this.

5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

Former education minister in Brazil is jailed in graft probe