Social Dems' Mysterious Under-the-Radar Invoice Raises Questions of Legitimacy
A previously unreported advertising invoice tracing back to 2011 that has suddenly popped up has challenged the Social Democratic Party's bid for the title of most saintly of the big four parties.
Complicating matters, which came to light on August 23, the head of Parliament's party financing oversight committee, a Social Democrat, is facing pressure to step down.
Although the 41,692-euro invoice was reported in the 2011 annual financial disclosure, it was no where in the campaign expenses form. The Social Democratic leadership attributed the mistake to human error, reported Eesti Päevaleht.
Others, such as the Reform Party's Valdo Randpere, said claiming that the disappearance of such a large sum simply went unnoticed was a slap in the face for voters.
On August 25, MPs from the Center Party and the Reform Party demanded that the head of Parliament's party finances supervisory committee, a Social Democrat, should step down in relation to the violation. The committee chairman, Ardo Ojasalu, said he saw no reason to resign.
Eesti Päevaleht, while saying in an August 26 editorial that such an error is possible, and there would be no use in Ojasalu's resignation, noted in an article on August 27: "It is confounding why the party itself or the party financing committee has failed to notice this pile of money in previous reports, considering how many problems party financing and transparency have caused.“
The missing invoice emerged in response to an inquiry sent out by the oversight committee on July 23 requesting details on TV advertising expenses from the 2011 elections.
Critics have pointed to a newspaper report in May that questioned how the party had spent so little on TV ads, and are now asking why the party did not respond to these speculations sooner. Critics have also noted the timing of the Social Democrats' revelation last Friday evening at 19:13, which could have saved them some bad press.
The new invoice increases the party's 2011 election campaign expenses by 6 percent, bringing the total to 726,926.91 euros.