Senate President Renan Calheiros barely escaped being removed from office for corruption after a senate vote Wednesday in Brasilia, local media reported.
Senators voted 40-35 with six abstentions against ousting Calheiros. Only a simple majority would have been necessary to remove the ally of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Calheiros was accused of accepting 8,000 dollars a month froma construction company. He denied the charges, though admitted to using a lobbyist friend from the Mendes Junior construction company as an intermediary to pay for an apartment and a pension for his illegitimate daughter, in order to hide an extramarital affair.
The senate leader claimed the money was his own, which raises questions how he afforded the payments with his declared income of just over 6,000 dollars a month.
The ethics commission of the senate had recommended only last week the removal from office as well as the denying Calheiros the right to hold any public office until 2019.
Calheiros, of the centrist Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, called the decision a "victory for democracy," in a statement.
"This is a disastrous result for the Senate," said Senator Jefferson Peres. "The Senate is left in tatters. There's no way that Renan Calheiros can continue as president of this chamber."
Though he survived Wednesday's vote, Calheiros could face three other investigations requested by opposition parties.
The vote comes six weeks after the Supreme ruled that 40 people, including high-ranking officials, should face charges over an illegal fund-raising scheme.
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