ERJK investigates Reinsalu campaign over suspected prohibited donation

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Urmas Reinsalu.
Urmas Reinsalu. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Estonia's Political Parties Financing Surveillance Committee (ERJK) has initiated a procedure to investigate current Isamaa chair Urmas Reinsalu's campaign expenses during the 2021 local elections in relation to the possible receipt of a prohibited donation. The ERJK has sent an inquiry to Urmas Reinsalu regarding the investigation.

The questions, which have arisen relate to a promotional campaign organized by Reinsalu's party colleague Tõnis Palts, who allegedly paid callers to do such work. According to the ERJK, as the payments may have been made through Tõnis Palts' company and no payment to a legal entity related to Tõnis Palts was declared in the campaign expenses, this may constitute a prohibited donation.

ERJK vice-chair Kaarel Tarand said, that no direct accusations are being made against Urmas Reinsalu and that the committee is simply checking the information it has received.

"There is a suspicion that Tõnis Palts paid someone money to run telephone campaign for the benefit of Isamaa and in particular for Urmas Reinsalu. This is the content of the complaint. Whether the money was paid from a private individual or through a company.. In one of these scenarios, the suspicion of a prohibited donation automatically arises," said Tarand.

The commission wrote in its inquiry, that if Urmas Reinsalu has not reimbursed these expenses, then he has received a prohibited donation in the form of a free service or benefit from a legal entity.

According to Reinsalu, he encouraged all Isamaa members to campaign in support of the party before the elections, and he and Tõnis Palts did not discuss this kind of campaign separately.

"Not specifically with Tõnis Palts, but I wrote to all members of the party and called on the Tallinn branch to do campaign work all over the country," said Reinsalu.

Reinsalu added that he did not pay anyone for such a campaign, nor did he order one.

"I did not have any separate agreement, whereby the company would organize and conduct a campaign like this. The rules must be followed. Of course, I will give my explanation to the ERJK and then this matter will be resolved. I was a candidate for mayor. It is right that everyone did this work on my behalf. But as for the question of whether I somehow separately ordered this service through a legal entity: no. I didn't," said Reinsalu.

Reinsalu stated, that he would definitely be providing his own explanation to the committee.

"These things must always be precise and in order. That also means that I will give my explanations to the ERJK and this matter will be completely clarified," he said.

Kaarel Tarand said that the initiation of the procedure is not a way of saying whether someone is or is not at fault. However, if it turns out that the campaign was financed using a prohibited donation, then that prohibited donation must be returned. "The beneficiary, who has benefited from this donation, and spent it, who has incurred expenses during the election campaign, must pay them and show them accordingly in the report, that's all," said Tarand.

Tõnis Palts told ERR that he campaigned for Isamaa in the 2021 local elections, however Reinsalu was not aware he had done so.

"During the 2021 local elections, I conducted an election campaign whereby, among other things, I called members of the political party and urged them to vote for Isamaa. Urmas Reinsalu was not aware of this initiative from my side. I paid three callers for making the phone calls, at the expense of my company, but did not know that payment in this way was not allowed. I paid my company's bills, and will declare the expenses in my campaign report and then let's move on," Palts said.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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