For years, parliamentary investigation committees (CPI) were political instruments feared by governments. In the early 1990s, the Fernando Collor administration began to crumble once corruption revelations came to light in a CPI to investigate his campaign treasurer. Years later, another such CPI—investigating fraud in the federal budget—led to the impeachment of six lawmakers. In 2005 and 2006, another committee exposed a bribery scheme within the Lula administration—nearly bringing down his government.
With time, however, CPIs have evolved into a spectacle more aimed at impressing voters and airing dirty laundry in public, rather than serious investigations. As Euan Marshall wrote in February, “the bark of a CPI is, more often than not, much worse than its bite.”