The Polish batch payment register is not working. We know why
– I would like very much that in Poland, civic control over the financing of political parties and election campaigns would reach the American level. In short, so that I can check who, to whom, when and how much he donated – says Liwiusz Laska, attorney, member of the National Electoral Commission, who recently returned from the US and sends to the organization’s website Open Secret. There you can find individual data and statements on contributions to political parties and organizations, e.g. liberal or right-wing. In Poland, there is no such place on the web, he adds.
MORE LEGAL INFORMATION IN THE NEW BUSINESS INSIDER POLSKA SECTION — LAW
Fallen FTX took care of the Democrats, Lockheed Martin gives equally
Open Secret data shows that Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of the FTX cryptocurrency exchangethat fell this month spent over $2,115,566 on political parties and candidates in the 2022 elections, including $2,030,366 for Democrats. To this must be added support for various organizations that also support parties. Sam Bankman-Fried transferred over $40 million to them. According to Open Secret Bankman-Fried was the second largest contributor supporting the Democratsand Nishad Salame, FTX’s technical director, was the 10th largest Republican donor.
On the other hand Elon Musk from 2004 to 2020 only In 2017, he spent $688,300 on political parties, of which $343,300 was spent on Democrats. dollars, and for Republicans – 345 thousand. dollars. in 2010
Open Secret also allows you to check how much individual industries and companies spend on politics. Usually, the financial industry invests the most. Banks, insurers and real estate companies spent USD 531.88 million on political parties and their candidates in 2021-22. The arms industry invests the least in the elections, but still a lot, because 23 million dollars. Companies try to distribute each batch more or less equally, e.g. Lockheed Martin gave $1.376 million to Democrats this year and $1.247 million to Republicans.
In the US, it is normal that some positions, including those in the White House or diplomatic missions, are assigned to those who financially support the party. For example Mark Brzezinskicurrent the US ambassador to Poland did not pay either to the Democrats or to Joe Biden. Former ambassador Georgette Mosbacher has supported Republicans for years.
– The American service could be a model for us, but we are still at the stage of deficiencies in the mandatory records of payments, with a great difficulty in obtaining bank account histories from political parties – this requires years of litigation – and postponing the entry into force until January 1, 2024. mandatory registers of contracts in the public finance sector. We still have a long way to go before we can process data and not extract it,” says Szymon Osowski, CEO of Watchdog Polska.
In Poland, similar data could be available in the upcoming parliamentary elections, but they will not be. The new rules that require parties to keep a record of contributions are dead because there is no way to enforce them.
Even if the parties wanted to apply the applicable regulations honestly, each can do it in its own way, which makes it difficult to aggregate data.
— All records, especially those on policy funding, should be searchable and processable – emphasizes Szymon Osowski. The lack of such solutions, e.g. in relation to asset declarations, shows how difficult their analysis is. Combining the registers of political parties’ payments, e.g. with contract registers and data from the National Court Register, could show whether there is a situation in which the financing of politics is not related, for example, to the procurement of services. However, without the ability to process such data, it will be almost impossible – emphasizes Osowski. How does it work in Poland?
Polish data is full of gaps and not comparable
According to Art. 25 of the Act on Political Parties, every Polish citizen may donate funds to a political party. The total sum of payments from a natural person, excluding membership fees, may not exceed 15 times the minimum remuneration for work in one year. In 2022, the minimum salary is PLN 3,010, so the maximum payment is PLN 45,510. And that’s it some members of management boards in the PZU group transferred to the party’s account. It was widely known at the beginning of November due to the fact that PiS is one of the few parties that fulfills the obligation to keep and update the register of payments. Recently on PiS 45 thousand. PLN was paid by Krzysztof Kozłowski, currently a member of the management board of PZU, formerly also a deputy minister in the PiS government. And Dominik Witek, member of the management board of PZU Zdrowie, transferred PLN 20,000. zloty. From July 1, the said Art. 25 also provides for the requirement to keep a register of payments in electronic form. After the entry into force of the regulations, the PKW stated that only a dozen of the 87 political parties took any steps to fulfill the obligation. We checked how the statutory provisions are implemented by the most important parties in the Sejm.
Apart from PiS, the register is kept and supplemented by Polska 2050, thanks to which it is known that the party is financed by Szymon Hołownia. Left has prepared electronic register, which even allows you to search by date of payment, name, amount. It follows from it that from July 1 no one has made a deposit yet.
It is impossible to check who makes payments to Solidarna Polska or Konfederacjaę, there is still no register on the website of these parties, which should be available from July 1. On the other hand AFTER and PSL they provide registers, but in pdf form. The PSL file contains one item, a payment of PLN 1,000 from Leszek Boniewski, president of the PSL district board in Katowice. The PO payment register is still empty.
As you can see, each register is kept in a different form, updated differently, which makes it difficult to collect data from them and compare them. It is also difficult to check whether this person finances various, e.g. opposition parties. Although the Minister of Finance, as indicated by the PKW, could clarify doubts related to the form of keeping the register, because it is he who defines the templates of such registers in the regulation. However, the general rule applies.
“With openness and transparency of financing political parties, we are not discovering America, we are only slowly chasing it,” assesses Liwiusz Laska. – The media was loud about payments made by members of the PZU management board, but the problem is that we do not have such statements as Open Secret. In the US, anyone can support a party, and moreover, half of the positions are filled by donors. However, anyone can check how much a given senator, candidate or even ambassador has paid – says Liwiusz Laska.
In Poland, there are regulations, but they do not work, which is alarmed by Sylwester Marciniak, chairman of the National Electoral Commission.
The PKW will not punish any party for breaking the provisions on the register of payments
In a letter to Elżbieta Witek, the Marshal of the Sejm, the head of the NEC writes about the need to urgently introduce changes to the regulations specifying the rules for checking the fulfillment by political parties of the obligation to keep, update or provide access to the register of paymentsand the imposition of fines. Although the law provides that The PKW can impose up to 30,000 PLN fine, it cannot in practice, because the regulations are defective.
– From the provisions, it is impossible to interpret the form, rules and procedures on the basis of which the NEC would implement such a serious obligation that could have a significant impact on the functioning of the party system in Poland, such as imposing fines on political parties – explains chairman Marciniak.
There has to be a mode to impose a penalty. Usually, public institutions do this on the terms set out in the Code of Administrative Procedure (KPA). The problem is that The PKW is not subject to the Code of Administrative Procedure. — The principles of operation and the mode of performing the PKW’s tasks are defined only by the provisions of the Electoral Code and the Act on political parties, which do not regulate the procedure for imposing penalties, which makes it impossible to conduct proceedings, explains chairman Marciniak. And he points out that there is not even a designated court to which a political party could lodge an appealas well as the procedure and deadline for bringing such a measure.
– Such a situation is unacceptable, as it would violate the constitutionally guaranteed right to a fair trial – he emphasizes. As a result, the new regulations are dead and few respect them.
The PKW also believes that the conduct of these cases should be entrusted to law enforcement authorities and courts that have all the legal means to carry them out. According to Szymon Osowski The Committee should be responsible for overseeing the party’s finances.
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