Politicians Handed Bill for Taxpayer-Funded Ads (1)
The Political Party Funding Oversight Committee has asked a number of politicians to pay for political ads which appeared shortly before the last local elections in 2013, but were paid for by local government and business.
The order concerns mostly the Center Party, which ran a number of city-funded campaigns with large pictures of local politicians who were running for office.
The exact figures were, according to Postimees:
¤ 11,000 euros for advertising the opening of a stadium in Tallinn, the campaign featured Tallinn Mayor Edgar Savisaar
¤ 269 euros for Tallinn city posters with district elder Karin Tammemägi
¤ 1,235 euros for Tallinn city posters with deputy elder Priit Kutser
¤ 100,842 euros for Tallinn marathon advertisements, featuring Savisaar
¤ An unknown sum for Savisaar inviting people to vote on the PBK Russian-language channel
¤ An unknown sum for former Tartu Mayor Urmas Kruuse promoting a triathlon competition
Kruuse is a Reform Party Cabinet minister, while all others are Center Party members.
The committee began an investigation into the ads after the elections with the main question focused on whether the ads were of political nature. If so, then illegal donations, in the form of the ads, were made to the politicians by the city and in Kruuse's case, a business. No legal entity may donate to a political party in Estonia.
The order is based on a study by University of Tartu scientists, who said the ads were aimed at promoting the politicians.
Taavi Pukk, a spokesman for the Center Party, said they are yet to read the order but will have 30 days to contest it. Kruuse said he saw no reason to decline the invitation to feature in the ads, adding that he would be happy to reimburse the costs.