Florin Iordache on elimination of article stipulating confiscation of illegal campaign contributions: Party can’t pay money it never had

Former Justice Minister Florin Iordache stated on Wednesday for Mediafax that campaign contributions that do not observe legal provisions cannot be confiscated from the political party because they are not deposited in its bank account.

“If a competitor – whether we are talking about a mayor, a local councillor or a parliamentarian – deposits a sum of money that exceeds legal limits, the current provisions stipulate that the money is no longer reimbursed, he is fined, but the money is also confiscated from the party. With this amendment, we are trying to point out that the party cannot pay money it never had. What am I supposed to confiscate from the party if the money was not deposited at the party? I sent this report back to the committee in order for us, along with the Standing Electoral Authority, to better regulate this situation that appeared in practice, namely if a competitor exceeds the maximum sum allowed, no doubt he shouldn’t be reimbursed, should be fined, but you can’t confiscate from the party because the money was not deposited in the party’s bank account,” PSD’s Lower Chamber lawmaker Florin Iordache stated for MEDIAFAX.

At the ex-Justice Minister’s proposal, the Judiciary Committee abrogated Article 28, Paragraph 13 of law no.334/2006, republished in 2015, according to which “campaign contributions that do not observe the provisions of the current article are confiscated and turned into budget revenue,” according to the report published on the Lower Chamber’s website on April 5.

Article 28 of the law on the financing of political parties and election campaigns regulated the regime of campaign contributions, the way in which they can be obtained and their upper limits.

One of the adopted amendments introduces the same regime for sums of money illegally obtained and used for the political parties’ central campaigns and for referendums.

Also at Florin Iordache’s proposal, the Judiciary Committee decided to abrogate Article 53, Paragraph 1, according to which “in the cases stipulated by Article 52, Paragraph 1-3 (in case offences are ascertained – editor’s note), the offender will pay to the state budget the sums of money and/or the monetary value of the goods and services that were the object of the offence, based on the Standing Electoral Authority’s decision.”

Donations accepted by a political party that is about to be dissolved or by a political party that operates based on a modified party statute – even though the modifications are yet to be filed with the Bucharest Court as legally required or the court rejected the request to approve the changes brought to the statute – will no longer be directed toward the state budget either, the committee deciding to also abrogate Article 53, Paragraph 2.

Another amendment that Iordache filed and the Judiciary Committee approved abrogates Article 59, Paragraph 2, according to which “only the legal provisions that concern the financing of election campaigns are applied to the organisations belonging to ethnic minority citizens which won, in a constituency, a single Lower Chamber seat, per the elections law, or a single councillor seat.”

In its initial form, the bill only sought to eliminate Article 59, Paragraph 2 of law no.334/2006, republished in 2015, on the financing of political parties and election campaigns. The bill was tabled during the previous Parliament by several Lower Chamber lawmakers representing ethnic minorities.

In their substantiation report, the representatives of the ethnic minorities claimed that the regulations contained by the article they wanted abrogated are also found in Article 50, Paragraph 4 of the same law, “namely, the organisations of ethnic minority citizens that take part in the elections are the subject of AEP’s control only during the electoral period and only in connection with it.”

The Senate rejected the bill on 13 September 2016.

The Legislative Council issued a favourable report on the bill, and the Government deemed, in its point of view, that “Parliament will decide on the advisability of adopting the bill.”

The report adopted by the Judiciary Committee will be sent to the plenum of the Lower Chamber, which will have the final vote.

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