Thursday, October 08, 2009

Poland’s Ruling Politicians Reportedly Involved In Illegal Lobbying

From: WSJ
Zbigniew Chlebowski
Zbigniew Chlebowski, a prominent Polish politician of Poland’s ruling Civic Platform party, was caught unawares when he tried to give assurances to an owner of a gambling firm that the government would scrap extra taxes on gambling that were expected to bring 469 million zlotys ($162.1 million) in receipts.
“We’ll do it 90%,” he reportedly said in a conversation intercepted by investigators, quoted by conservative daily Rzeczpospolita today. “I’ve been doing this alone trying to block those payments for a year. I’m taking all the credit.”

A cabinet minister was also reportedly involved in those under-the-table negotiations.
In the past, we’ve seen political parties sidelined after corruption allegations of this magnitude. Oscar-winning film producer Lew Rywin was given a 2.5-year prison sentence after he came to media group Agora with a $17.5 million bribe offer in exchange for laws that would not block Agora’s expansion into television. The post-communist Democratic Left Alliance that Rywin alleged to represent lost the 2005 parliamentary election, winning just 11.31% of votes, compared to 41.04% four years earlier.

But this time may be different. Donald Tusk’s cabinet has had a good press with some of its controversial deeds and inactions, and will continue to enjoy it until the presidential elections next year that can take Tusk to the presidential palace, giving political retirement to Lech Kaczynski, the identical twin brother of the opposition leader Jaroslaw, who was prime minister in 2006-2007.

The Polish mainstream media are generally quite liberal and they don’t want to see an election win of Kaczynski’s conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, as unlikely as it seems at this point.
But even though the corruption allegations may be downplayed, the ruling camp already has a hard time with them – the man taking all the credit has just tried to run away from a television crew that was questioning him about the affair.

“Oh come on, sorry, really – what’s you’re doing is really unethical,” he told a reporter. Some nerve.