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Gilmar Mendes: Brazil election campaign fund not big enough

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The president of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, minister Gilmar Mendes, admitted in an interview with Reuters that the resources of the fund approved by Congress – worth R$1.7 billion reais about US$ 542 million dollars – will not be enough to finance the 2018 campaign and that it will be necessary to continue the discussion of new sources of funding for the candidates.

After electoral corporate donations were banned in the wake of the country’s biggest ever corruption scandal Brazil’s political class voted on Wednesday to establish the 1.7 billion reais fund to finance election campaigns.

Backers of the fund said organized crime would step in to finance politicians if taxpayer funds were not made available.

According Reuters Gilmar Mendes, the head of Brazil’s TSE electoral court, said the fund would need more money.

“This is a discussion we’re going to have to continue, the debate on whether there are sufficient resources. It is evident that they will not be enough,” Mendes, who is also a Supreme Court justice, said.

The ban on corporate funding coupled with the drying up of under-the-table contributions and kickbacks during Brazil’s Car Wash corruption probe has left lawmakers struggling to raise money for their campaigns.

Critics of the campaign fund said it was aimed at providing funding for lawmakers seeking re-election to shield themselves from prosecution for corruption.

Mendes said one possibility to boost campaign financing next year would be to increase federal transfers to another fund that finances political parties called Fundo Partidario. The current budget estimates transfers of 888 million reais to this fund in 2017.