Paper: Secretary-general to be replaced as Reform Party slips into the red

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The Reform Party is about to let go its secretary-general, Tõnis Kõiv. Despite outgoing chairman Hanno Pevkur's assurances to the contrary, the Reform Party's finances seem to be in bad shape, which according to several party members is the reason for Kõiv's fall from grace, rather than giving the party's likely next leader, Kaja Kallas, the opportunity to appoint her own team.

According to party members referred to both by Eesti Ekspress and ERR's Estonian news, the party will make it official in its leadership meeting scheduled for today Friday. Pevkur told ERR on Wednesday that Kõiv was being replaced as part of the impending leadership change.

Member of the European Parliament Kaja Kallas (Reform/ALDE) is set to return from Brussels. Kallas is currently the only candidate for Reform's next chairmanship elections on Apr. 14. Should she be elected, naturally she would have a say in who gets hired as secretary-general, Pevkur said.

Party spent full year's budget in just six months

But according to Eesti Ekspress, this isn't the reason for Kõiv's fall from grace. The paper named three reasons on Thursday this week why Kõiv is about to be replaced: the party's dismal financial situation, the apparently bad working climate at the party's headquarters in Tallinn, and unauthorized access and manipulations of the party's database.

Referring to a "party member," Eesti Ekspress wrote that the party is in the red, currently living off borrowed money. The party used up its full budget for the ongoing year within just six months. At €2.13 million, the Reform Party has spent roughly a million more than the Center Party, the only comparable organization in Estonian politics.

Spending was up, but there were no additional sources of income, Ekspress wrote. The paper's report comes just a day after Hanno Pevkur told ERR that the party's finances are in order: "If we look at the donations made to the party in 2017, the Reform Party collected the most donations [of all the parties] despite being in opposition. The party's financial situation is under control," Pevkur said.

Riigikogu employee close to Pevkur accesses Reform Party database

Ekspress also wrote that a Riigikogu staff member close to Pevkur, Heli Teder, apparently accessed the party's members database, where she "processed" more than 1,500 entries of members of the party's Tallinn section. Due to her position as an employee of parliament, Teder shouldn't have had access to the database.

The party's IT man, Mati Leet, noticed Teder's entry into the database and informed Secretary-General Tõnis Kõiv as well as the party's Tallinn chief, Kristen Michal, on Feb. 9 this year. The events happened just a day before the party's internal leadership elections for its Tallinn section that were held on Feb. 10.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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