The Parliament's party financing oversight committee has agreed with opposition critics that two public service campaigns currently running in the capital's Põhja-Tallinn district are, in fact, taxpayer-funded political ads.
In a open reply sent Tuesday to an inquiry by Madis Kübar (IRL), who heads the Tallinn City Council's audit committee, the party financing oversight committee said that the campaigns by Põhja-Tallinn district officials were indeed political ads in disguise.
One of the campaigns comprises posters at Stoomi Beach featuring a photo of District Elder Karin Tammemägi inviting residents to sporting events, while a poster of deputy elder Priit Kutser covering the side of an old schoolhouse on Sõle street tells passersby that a sports complex with a swimming pool will be located there in two years.
Both Kutser and Tammemägi are Center Party members and are likely to run for office in the upcoming local elections.
The oversight committee found that the promise of the complex being built by 2015 was political, as the current Tallinn government could change and the new powers might not go ahead with the project.
The committee also found that half of Kutser's poster is covered by his face and name, which are not relevant to the public service.
The Tammemägi campaign was also criticized by the committee for displaying too much of the politician and not enough of the actual message. The posters call on people to be more physically active, yet feature a politician, not a sports personality and the posters are in the same color as Center Party election campaign ads.
In its letter, the committee said that current legislation does not specify what does or does not constitute a political ad, but noted that the Supreme Court has drawn up a list of what it considers a political ad, which includes promotion of an individual on posters hanging on walls, buildings, buses and taxis.
The district administration's spokeswoman, Katrin Hinrikus, said earlier that the posters were a public service and the photos were necessary because someone had to take responsibility for seeing through the completion of the projects.