The Federal Police investigation investigating the suspicion of buying votes for the current Minister of Sports, André Fufuca (PP), brought to light a group of people, including local businesspeople and public servants, who mobilized in the 2018 elections for candidates from the centrão and parties linked to the center-right.
In addition to Fufuca, at least one other local politician, the current Secretary of Industry of Maranhão and affiliated with Patriota, Júnior Marreca, is formally investigated by the Federal Police on suspicion of buying votes in that year’s dispute. His name appeared in the initial complaint from a resident who made the police carry out a patrol in the municipality of Santa Luzia (MA) which began investigations into vote buying. Marreca was a federal deputy that year, but ended up having his candidacy challenged by the Public Ministry and withdrew from running.
Find out more: Money cakes and open conversations about buying votes: the PF’s evidence against André Fufuca, minister appointed by the centrão
Even so, the material found by the PF indicates that other local politicians, including the daughter of former president José Sarney, former governor of Maranhão and now federal deputy, Roseana Sarney (MDB), may also have used the illegal scheme in that election. . That year she ran for state government, but was defeated by Flávio Dino (PSB).
On the cell phone of one of the suspects caught with Fufuca saints and bags of money on the eve of the 2018 elections, the PF came across the articulation of supporters of the now Minister of Sports and other politicians who had no embarrassment in sharing images of cakes money and openly discuss vote buying, even assigning values per voter won.
In an explicit portrait of how the articulations and strategies of some political groups in Brazil still work, the cell phone messages and images analyzed by the Federal Police expose a side of the 2018 election that until now had not come to light.
Most of the messages about vote buying were found on the cell phone of businessman Marcus Vinícius Sales, a local event producer who had direct contact with the Minister of Sports, through the cell phone that the holder of the portfolio still uses today.
The PF found messages in their conversations referring to “Capim Limão”, or even “Capim”, an expression that would be a possible reference to money and which appears in two audio messages from Marcus identified by the PF.
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In an exchange of audio messages on Whatsapp on September 15, 2018, less than a month before the election, Marcus told an interlocutor that he would meet with Fufuca to see if the “lemon grass” would come out. The PF does not confirm in the investigation files whether the meeting took place. The report attempted to contact Marcus Sales by phone and Whatsapp message, but received no response.
The Ministry of Sports informed in a statement that Fufuca “does not condone any illegal act, is not responsible for the actions of third parties and trusts that justice will clarify all the facts.”
In another message cited in the report, Marcus tells a contact that he is “waiting for Sousa to fix some grass.” According to the PF, Sousa is a reference to Sousa Neto, who that year was a candidate for state deputy for the PRP. In another message with reference to “Capim Limão”, on August 30 of that year Marcus also mentions the then candidate for state deputy to an interlocutor identified as Thamara.
Marcus appeared as a service provider for Sousa Neto’s campaign in 2018. According to the accounting submitted to the Electoral Court, the businessman received R$1,500 from the then candidate that year for the rental of a room to serve as a campaign office. .
The PF found Marcus to be close to Sousa Neto when analyzing the contents of the businessman’s cell phone. “According to the data collected through the analysis of messages sent/received by MARCUS SALES, it was possible to identify a relevant connection between him and the then candidate SOUSA NETO. 25 records of calls originating and/or received between the months of August to October 2018, between MARCUS SALES and the terminal identified in his phone book as ‘Deputado Sousa’ in addition to recording messages through the Whatsapp application”, states the Federal Police report.
‘I sold my election to Roseana’
It is in a dialogue about the candidacy of Sousa Neto, who was elected as a substitute that year, that Marcus Sales and an interlocutor identified as “Clistenes” in his agenda expose some local political behind-the-scenes and mention “Roseana”. That year Roseana Sarney, daughter of former president José Sarney and former governor of Maranhão, was a candidate for state government. In the PF investigation, none of the investigators, however, related the name to her.
“Do you know how much he has ‘TAXINHA’ (nickname given to Marcus Sales). No lie at all, but keep it to yourself. Sousa only has 50 thousand… 50 thousand, which Roseana gave him. He said that later They will send some more, but there are only 50 thousand”, said Clistenes in an audio message transcribed by the PF. That year, according to the accounts submitted to the Electoral Court, Sousa Neto’s campaign recorded only one donation of R$50,000, received from the PRP state directory.
Later, at 11:29 am on September 19, Clistenes sends a photo with two bundles of money and an audio to Marcus Sales after asking if he was with Sousa Neto. “Two thousand of 10 reais, maybe if he doesn’t want it? It was good for him. People would ask and he would give 20, 30…”, stated Clistenes in audio.
In response, according to the PF report, Marcus states that he doesn’t know what “to do with him”, and then at 11:29 am he writes: “Roseana ‘vau’ (sic) release the ‘cacal’ (sic) for him”.
In another message exchange via Whatsapp, with the interlocutor identified as “Careca”, Marcus Sales receives a proof of payment of R$10,000 to Klennyo Jonnes Barbosa Ribeiro, at the time serving in the office of federal deputy Juscelino Filho (União Brasil), who became Minister of Communications in the Lula government.
According to Estadão, Klennyo would be the manager of a stud farm owned by Juscelino Filho in Maranhão even though he received a salary from the Chamber. After Juscelino left the House to take over the Ministry of Communications at the beginning of this year, Klennyo continued to be hired as parliamentary secretary in the office of Juscelino’s deputy, deputy Dr. Benjamin (União-MA). According to the Chamber’s transparency portal, Klennyo is still in the position today and received, in October, a gross salary of R$7,600.
In the investigation files, the PF does not discuss this transfer made on the eve of that year’s election. When contacted, the Ministry of Communications informed in a note that “the Minister of Communications, Juscelino Filho, is not responsible for the alleged acts carried out by third parties, nor does he comment on investigations launched by the PF”.
Vote and bolus
In addition to the references to “lemon grass” and “cocoa”, conversations on Marcus Sales’ cell phone also caught the attention of the PF due to an unusual request. On September 27 of that year, the businessman received a message from an interlocutor identified as Andreza asking who he supported among “his candidates”. Officially, the businessman provided services to just one candidate in that election, Sousa Neto, for whom he declared that he had rented an office space for R$1,500.
“Marcos then responds, via text, that they are the candidates: Federal André Fufucá 1111, Andréa Murad 44133 (candidate for state deputy); Roseana 15 (candidate for governor); Lobão 150 (candidate for senator Edison Lobão); and Samey 432 ( candidate for the Senate, Sarney Filho)”, states the PF in the report.
Afterwards, Andreza states that she “votes for them too” and asks for “sponsorship” for her mother’s birthday, to buy a R$80 cake. Marcus confirms that he can help and Andreza forwards a woman’s details so he can make the transfer. He then sends the transfer receipt to the woman who would have made the cake.
When asking for the investigation to be extended for another 90 days on November 16, the Federal Police informed that it still intends to take statements from eight people, including Marcus’ interlocutors identified as Clistenes and Wandson da Silva Ximendes, who appears on the agenda of Marcus identified by the nickname “Careca” and who resides in Vitorino Freire, the political stronghold of Juscelino Filho.
The report attempted to contact Clistenes, Thamara and Andreza by telephone, but no one answered or responded to questions about the Whatsapp messages. The report has been unsuccessfully trying to contact Marcus Vinícius Sales since last week, and forwarded the conversations used in the article to him, but received no response.
In relation to Roseana Sarney, the report contacted the deputy’s office and forwarded the messages that were published in this text, but did not receive any response until the closing of this article. The report also sent an email to the Maranhão Infrastructure Secretariat asking about Junior Marreca’s situation, but received no response.
Regarding Klennyo, the report contacted the office of deputy dr. Benjamin, but still no response.
Editing: Nicolau Soares