Campaign financing is a messy business anywhere. In Brazil, the rules of the game were becoming somewhat stable in 2012, when the Superior Electoral Court ruled to make donations more transparent during the campaign itself – instead of candidates having to present their accounts only after the election. It was a welcome change for everyone. That is, everyone except politicians, who quickly struck back to make campaign donations less transparent.
According to new rules, companies are forbidden to donate to campaigns – but individuals are allowed. The problem is that the rule change did not prevent big business from putting their money behind the candidates they support – it just made it harder to identify who is backing which candidate. Now we know the names of every donor – but, unless you know which boards these people are on (and most board members fly under the radar of public scrutiny), you don’t know which interests are behind donations.