- Posted June 29, 2014 by
Poland Government Scandal: Sikorski 'Illegally' Spent Taxpayer Money for an Expensive Private Dinner - Avoids Media Inquiries
Warsaw, Poland, June 29, 2014 - According to Polish television 'TVN24' and recordings obtained by the weekly 'Wprost' magazine, Poland's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Radosław Sikorski, charged 1,300 złoty (over $400 US dollars) on a government card for a private dinner he had with former Finance Minister Jacek Rostowski. He classified this as a government expense, the burden falling on the taxpayer, for a dinner unrelated to government affairs. Attorneys and politicians alike have stated this consists of a serious violation of Polish constitutional law and represents an abuse of governmental funds. This extravagant sum for an evening dinner for two exceeds the monthly salary and pension for many or most Poles. When journalists questioned Sikorski about this incident, he refrained from commenting on the subject, an attempt to further avoid embarrassment and media hype relating to his involvement in the larger scandal. So far, he has not denied anything.
This incident is reminiscent of the 'UK Parliamentary Expenses' scandal of 2009 where members of the British parliament misused permitted allowances and expenses. It resulted in numerous resignations, sackings, and retirement announcements. In that case, those charged were obligated to apologize to the public and repay the expenses. Both Poland and the UK are members of the European Union, where the laws of both countries are quite similar and reflect EU policy and ethical standards. Many politicians in Poland's parliament or 'Sejm' are now suggesting what course of action to be taken in relation to this incident. Some have questioned the frequency of this spending abuse which might result in additional scrutiny and investigation of personal expenditures by government officials.
Andrzej Halicki from the Civic Platform (PO) to which Sikorski also belongs, admitted the dinner was not a business meeting, so the minister should return the money. Włodzimierz Czarzasty of the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) believes that Sikorski, in order to preserve his honor, should both return the money and resign. He also recalls another similar case of highly elected officials in Sweden, in which small purchases were paid for using a government expense card. When the case came to light, the money was returned and the officials resigned. Anita Gargas, a journalist for "Gazeta Polska Codziennie" asked, "Why, when it comes to taxpayer money, Sikorski is trying his best to avoid publicity and the media? He does not wish to disclose accounts?"