The use of public funds by federal deputies to publicize their own parliamentary activity broke a record in 2023.
In total, parliamentarians spent R$84.1 million for this purpose, which represents 38.3% of the total so-called Ceap (Quota for the Exercise of Parliamentary Activity).
Known as “fluff”, the amount finances or reimburses deputies for expenses that include office rent, fuel, food, airline tickets and accommodation, among others.
The percentage for disclosing the mandate is the highest in the entire history of cotão, whose current format was established in 2009.
That year, publicizing the mandate consumed only 19% of the fluff, show the data collected and organized by Sheet through the transparency website of the Chamber of Deputies.
The year in which publicity had consumed the largest share of the budget so far was 2020, with 34.4%.
In general, deputies’ spending on this item includes content production and maintenance of social networks, printing of newspapers and pamphlets, as well as advertising or sponsorship of websites and blogs aligned in the states.
The champion of using the funds to publicize the mandate last year was Eunício Oliveira (MDB-CE), former president of the Senate and now federal deputy, who used R$494,000 in the 12 months of 2023.
For comparison purposes, the average among all parliamentarians was an expenditure of R$162 thousand throughout the year.
The justification that Eunício gave for the expense was the production and editing of videos for the internet and feeding his profiles on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok, in addition to his professional WhatsApp.
On his social networks, Eunício mixes the publicity of his parliamentary work with some records of his personal life and even tributes, such as the most recent one, to the four-time world champion Mário Lobo Zagallo, who died on the 5th.
Carnaúba Assessoria de Comunicação e Publicidade Ltda was the recipient of the funds in almost every month, with amounts ranging from R$20,000 to R$40,000, but in December there was a jump, with a charge of R$125,000.
According to the Chamber’s rules, the monthly funds not used by parliamentarians accumulate for the following months until December, when, if not used, they return to the public coffers.
A Sheet showed, for example, that in December 2020, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Chamber sponsored a record expenditure of the quota distributed to parliamentarians.
In a month of emptied National Congress, with just three weeks of formal work and still affected by social distancing, deputies received a refund of R$26 million, 95% more than the average seen in the previous 11 months (R$13, 4 million), a record.
More than half of the total money was used, at that time, also under the justification of “publicizing parliamentary activity” and hiring consultancies and research.
Eunício simply stated, through his advisor, that “the expenses are in accordance with the Chamber’s rules, act of Bureau 40/2012, on publicizing parliamentary activity”.
A Sheet could not contact the company or representative.
The cotão distributes monthly amounts to each of the 513 deputies ranging from R$36,500 to R$49,500, depending on the state of origin.
The Chamber simply checks whether the notes presented relate to the expenses permitted by internal rules. There is no check whether the money was actually disbursed and whether the prices charged are compatible with market prices, for example.
First lady of the city of Ananindeua (17 km from Belém), first-term federal deputy Alessandra Haber (MDB-PA) was the most voted in the entire state and 15th in all of Brazil, even though she had never occupied a seat in the Chamber previously.
She occupies second place on the list of parliamentarians who most used fluff to publicize parliamentary activity.
“The expenses with the quota are within the legal limits established by the Chamber of Deputies. Part of it refers to the dissemination of the work of the Special Subcommittee on People with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, chaired by me and which went from temporary to permanent”, she stated.
He also said: “The quota resources are fundamental for the exercise of the mandate, a duty and a right, in the sense of being accountable for the work carried out to the population.”
The money was used to hire an individual company to produce content for the mandate’s social networks, in addition to creating newsletters, banners and even advertising billboards, in Pará.
The list of deputies who used the most funds on this item also includes Sonize Barbosa (PL-AP) and Pastor Gil (PL-MA).
In addition to the fluff, the deputies have other funds at their disposal, such as R$ 118 thousand per month to hire 5 to 25 advisors for Brasília and the state, and R$ 4,253 as housing allowance (for those who do not use the apartments functional in the federal capital).
Last year, shortly before the election to command the House, the President of the Chamber, Arthur Lira (PP-AL), campaigning to be reappointed, granted benefits, such as increasing the amount available for fuel reimbursement and increasing the number of possible trips made with the parliamentary quota. Travel to other parts of the country was also authorized, as long as it was close to the parliamentarian’s residence.
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