ALDE, the umbrella organization of the European Liberal Democrats, admitted it made a mistake publishing advertisements on Facebook for Estonian candidates before the European elections.
"We published an advertisement for our European Union citizens' followers, but accidentally forgot to exclude (from the audience who see the ad - ed.) Estonian residents," wrote Didrik de Schaetzen, ALDE's communications manager to the Political Parties Financing Surveillance Committee (ERJK).
Schaetzen said advertisements for the top lists of political parties, including those of Andrus Ansip, a former Reform Party leader, and Yana Toom, of the Centre Party, were visible for several hours.
"We noticed the error and deleted the posts immediately, but unfortunately they were still visible on the Internet for a short time," said Schaetzen, who also acted as ALDE's campaign manager for the European elections on May 26.
ALDE spent €11.33 on the Centre Party ad and €10.95 on advertising for the Reform Party he said. Ansip's ad on Facebook reached 1,540 people and Toom's reached 1,166 people.
"Advertising was a human error that we corrected as quickly as we could. It was done without knowing the top numbers of ALDE member parties, including without the knowledge of Estonian parties," Schaetzen emphasized in his letter.
In October, the ERJK asked ALDE for proof they had paid for Ansip and Toom's election advertising expenses on Facebook. The ERJK explained in its letter to ALDE that under Estonian law, political parties are not allowed to accept donations from legal persons.
Toom and Ansip came under the spotlight of the ERJK because of a sponsored ad on the ALDE Facebook account for their election to the European Parliament. The Centre Party and the Reform Party both belong to the ALDE group. The ERJK demanded payment from both of them, which they declined, stating that they had neither ordered nor paid for the advertisement themselves.
Editor: Helen Wright