Su, 14.08.2022
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Secretary-Generals, the generous philanthropists stuffing party coffers

Tuuli Koch
, reporter
Secretary-Generals, the generous philanthropists stuffing party coffers
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Priit Toobal
Priit Toobal Photo: Elmo Riig / Sakala

A job for a party secretary-general is to keep seeking and finding money and new donors for is. Therefore, their own generosity is under added scrutiny. While Centre's secretary-general has given no money to native party over these past three years, his colleagues on the remaining major parties have.

Postimees undertook to review last three year’s donations by secretary-generals of four major parties. These go from €20 to €14,000 – thereat, the latter sum has accumulated over three short quarters.  

While Centre features the hard-and-fast rule that Riigikogu members must regularly pay the party part of wages at Toompea, Mr Toobal though in parliament for some reason seems to present an exception. «I have indeed donated to the party in earlier years but this year I have not done it, true,» said Mr Toobal, and added: «As I am not being paid by the party for being secretary-general, actually from 2011, then we have deemed it prudent that I pay no membership fee from Riigikogu salary as the others in the Centre faction do.»

Mr Toobal was unnerved by this having been an elections years when hopes for donations in parties are heightened.

As to former Sec Dems secretary-general Indrek Saar, during three quarters he gave a whopping € 14,624. «I have supported the party and will definitely do that in the future and that unrelated to my position,» assured Mr Saar, now the culture minister. He said almost all money transfers are being done electronically and only in the rare few cases has a party member paid membership fee or a small donation at some party event in cash.

«But we do have a free-will agreement in the party that members of the government and the Riigikogu, for instance, might donate to the party every month. Understandably, in the election year the party’s expenses were larger and therefore members try to input more,» said Mr Saar. «Naturally, people like Riigikogu members and ministers have more opportunity. Thus my own donations in the election year have been larger, but that does not differ at all from many of the top politicians in our party.»

Former IRL secretary-general Tiit Riisalo has always made donations by bank transfer from private account. This year he has given the party €11,500. «For an individual very directly and daily tied to politics it is rather logical and natural to support the party the world view of which one supports. I have been thinking that the sum might be about one monthly wages a year i.e. in my case about €3,000, and to my knowledge such custom or practice is considered a good tone in several nations like as well as in Finland,» explained Mr Riisalo.

«In the election year the sum was substantially larger as, in addition to the usual donations, as a candidate I have used campaign products ordered by the party. Here, a candidate has two options: design and order one’s own products, and communicate directly with suppliers and providers of services, or use the ones ordered by the party and then donate an agreed amount to the party,» added Mr Riisalo who said he always goes for the latter as this saves time and effort.

As to why he’s giving such large sums to the party, Mr Riisalo had a simple explanation: he can afford to. «I have consistently worked since 1994. My first «real» job after graduating from the university was European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and ever since I have had the opportunity and happiness to always earn above Estonia’s average,» said Mr Riisalo. Unlike Mr Toobal, he drew a salary comparable to people in Riigikogu also while IRL secretary-general since 2012.

As for Reform, where prior to Silvergate [revelations by former member Silver Meikar – edit] plastic bags full of cash were allegedly arriving abundantly, it is still enthroned at top of the donations chart. During the three quarters of this year, a total of €520,000 has been donated to them, €8,800 of which came from secretary-general Martin Kukk. «I have by bank transfers donated the money to the party this year as I had the financial opportunity,» said Mr Kukk, adding that among other things he has covered costs related to him running for the Riigikogu, and the rental bills of the regional organisation office managed by him.   

MONETARY DONATIONS BY SECRETARY-GENERALS OF FOUR MAJOR PARTIES DURING THE  PAST THREE YEARS:

Reform

Secretary-General Martin Kukk

2015 – totalling €8,800  (three quarters); I quarter – €1,900, II quarter – €3,500, III quarter – €53,400

2014 – totalling €574.50; I – €50, II – €5,574.50, III – €550, IV – €0

2013 – totalling €1,500; I quarter – €200, II quarter – €100, III quarter – €200, IV quarter – €1,500

IRL

Secretary-General (former) Tiit Riisalo

2015 – totalling €11,500 (three quarters); I quarter – €7,000, II quarter – €4,500; III quarter – €0

2014 – totalling €3,020; I quarter – €0, II quarter – €0, III quarter – €20, IV quarter – €3,000

2013 –  €0

Soc Dems

Secretary-General (former) Indrek Saar

2015 – totalling €14,624.19 (three quarters) ; I quarter – €7,749.19, II quarter – €4,350, III quarter – €2,525

2014 – totalling €3,500; I quarter – €373, II quarter – €375, III quarter – €1,375, IV quarter – €1,375

2013 – totalling €2,089; I quarter – €375, II quarter – €380, III quarter – €651.32, IV quarter – €682.68

Centre

Secretary-General Priit Toobal

2015 – €0

2014 – €0

2013 – €20 in III quarter

TOTAL DONATIONS TO FOUR MAJOR PARTIES:

Reform

2013 – €497,843

2014 – €463,972 

2015 – €520,816 (three quarters)

IRL

2013 – €487,491

2014 – €364,457

2015 – €419,838 (three quarters)

Soc Dems

2013 – €238,593 

2014 – €204,001 

2015 – €426,265 (three quarters)

Centre

2013 – €294,151

2014 – €153,193

2015 – €227,180 (three quarters)

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