Everything stays in the family, episode 1. How the Ministry hands out millions despite conflicts of interest
Photo: Radek Pietruszka/PAP
Every year, the Ministry of Family and Social Policy, as part of the “Family First!” competition, subsidizes Catholic and right-wing organizations related to each other – personally or jointly. This is often decided by their former employees and co-workers, e.g. Deputy Minister and Government Plenipotentiary for Demographic Policy Barbara Socha. NIK reported the case to the prosecutor’s office, which does not see the crime. Organizations subsidized by the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy were also co-financed by the Justice Fund supervised by Minister Zbigniew Ziobro.
PLN 40 million, which the Minister of Education and Science, Przemysław Czarnek, distributed in the villa plus competition it is a fragment of the stream of public money that flows to non-governmental organizations associated with the ruling camp. Some of them – as we read in government documents – “support the education system”, others – for the money of the Justice Fund – “help victims of crime”, some carry out “civic initiatives” subsidized by the National Freedom Institute, others conduct “information campaigns” promoting ” family values.”
Ministry of Family and Social Policy as part of the grant competition “Family first!” since 2020, it has been co-financing Catholic and right-wing foundations and associations. In total, PLN 25.5 million has already been awarded to them. At the end of January, it announced the fourth edition of the competition with a record budget of PLN 17 million (twice as much as in 2022, when over PLN 8 million was available).
Happy families are alike
So far, funds from “Family First!” went mostly to Catholic, pro-life organizations and those fighting the so-called “ideology LGBT” – which can be seen in the results of each edition of the competition.
As calculated by the Oko.press portal, out of 39 organizations that received funding in 2022, 17 are religious, 7 are fighting the so-called “gender ideology” and LGBT, four are right-wing, conservative and/or associated with PiS, and one “promotes the traditional family model with a woman working at home”.
Between organizations that from the competition “Family First!” receive the most money from the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, we have traced numerous personal connections or those based on jointly conducted activities financed from public funds. We followed them not because they concern mostly right-wing and Catholic organizations, but because these organizations receive specific support from public funds, counted in the hundreds of thousands or even millions of zlotys. Meanwhile, their activities, as well as the mode of granting funds, raise doubts not only from journalists, but also from the auditors of the Supreme Audit Office.
We asked the NIK to declassify the audit documents entitled “Implementation of the ‘Family First’ competition by the Ministry of Family and Social Policy and selected non-governmental organizations”. On the authority of the Acting Director of the Department of Labour, Social Affairs and Family of NIK, the competition documentation was made available to us for inspection at the seat of the Chamber. What picture emerges from it?
Among the organizations receiving the greatest support in the competition “Family First!” key people intertwine as presidents, members of management boards, supervisory authorities, experts and trainers.
It happens that they pay themselves (at the same time representing the organization and acting as individuals). Or they start working at the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy and decide to grant funding to organizations in which they have been active until recently.
We invite you to delve into the network of connections between politicians of the ruling camp, foundations, associations and people from the back row of PiS. What do they do? They organize social campaigns, but also conferences and lectures. Sometimes just before elections, as part of “apolitical events”.
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