1. Governance
September 2, 2015updated 09 Jun 2022 9:11am

This Brazilian mayor ran her town by WhatsApp and is now wanted by police

By City Monitor Staff

A mayoralty really is what you make of it. You could be a Helen Zille, Cape Town’s mayor from 2006 to 2009, who oversaw a rapid decline in crime, uptick in economic growth and crackdown and drugs. Or you could be a Rob Ford, the Toronto mayor whose record of bizarre transgressions includes driving while reading, boycotting Pride, and is too long to go into in full here. 

But this month, a new contender for “worst mayor ever” has elbowed her way past the competition. Meet Lidiane Leite, the 25-year-old mayor of Bom Jardim, a small town in northeastern Brazil:

Image: Lidiane Leite via Facebook.

Lidiane has been accused of living in a completely different town during her tenure and running the municipal office via daily WhatsApp messages to her cabinet. This is bad form, to be sure, but isn’t technically illegal – unlike the other transgressions Lidiane is accused of. Authorities also claim she siphoned off  $4m worth of public money to fund her lifestyle in Sao Luis, a town 150 miles away, where she moved shortly after her election. 

According to the BBC, there are also suggestions that Leite only ran as a proxy for her boyfriend Beto Rocha, who was banned from the 2012 race for corruption. Before moving away, Leite appointed Rocha as her chief advisor. When the couple broke up earlier this year, Rocha resigned. 

All this came to light as a result of a federal investigation into misuse of state education funds earlier this year. Last Thursday, an arrest warrant was issued, and Leite was replaced by her former deputy. Step aside, Rob Ford. 

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