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Justice Fund. Sovereign Poland: subsidies went to communes where we did not rule. But that's not what the scandal is about

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To voices about using the Justice Fund for political purposes, Sovereign Poland responds that the funds went mainly to municipalities where “non-party” people ruled. This is an attempt to manipulate public opinion: to divert attention from the fact that public money was used to conduct the election campaign.

Politicians of Sovereign Poland are defending themselves against allegations of possible illegal financing of their election campaign with funds from the Justice Fund. They also deny any allegations that this fund – which was managed by the Ministry of Justice headed by Zbigniew Ziobro (and the fund was supervised by then deputy minister Marcin Romanowski) – was used for political purposes by Sovereign Poland.

The media, including tvn24.pl, have been publishing tapes for several weeks that were recorded over the last two years by Tomasz Mraz, former director of the Justice Fund Department at the ministry. The recordings concern the functioning of this fund, and Mraz is one of the suspects in the investigation into irregularities in the awarding of million-dollar subsidies from it. On June 2, KO MP Roman Giertych published a recording from March this year in which he talks to Mraz. The former director said, among other things, that from this fund “Ziobro limits” were allocated, which could be used by specific politicians of Sovereign Poland from specific constituencies.

READ MORE: “Ziobro's limits” for individual constituencies. Tomasz Mraz on details

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On May 28, the Ministry of Justice published interactive infographicwhich shows the grants awarded under Justice Fund for 2019-2023 broken down into electoral districts. These were funds awarded outside competitions.

In reaction to this – but also to the Mraz tapes revealed on June 2 – Sovereign Poland puts forward the argument that in most communes that received subsidies for volunteer fire brigades, this party was not in power at all. In a post published on June 2 on the profile of Sovereign Poland on the X platform, we read, among others: “The thesis about targeted expenditure on the Volunteer Fire Department is repeated again, divided into regions, to fit the thesis. Meanwhile, the seat of the Volunteer Fire Department is the commune. Moreover, the commune is the applicant. And when this obvious formal fact is taken into account, the division with FS looks like this: 72% – Bezpartyjni 12% – PSL 9% – PiS 4% – PO 0.33% – SP” (original spelling of the posts). He also presented this argument on his profile Patryk Jaki. And Maciej Szot, councilor of Sovereign Poland from Inowrocław, commented: “For the Volunteer Fire Department to receive funds from the Justice Fund, the commune had to apply…”

We do not know how Sovereign Poland calculated such a percentage division among the groups ruling in the municipalities – which municipalities it concerns, what period, how “non-partisans” were treated, sometimes supported by specific parties. One can only assume that these are commune heads or mayors and their declared party affiliation – but it is difficult to verify the numbers presented in the post.

The party is distracting from the heart of the matter. The purpose of these statistics is to direct public opinion to who was in charge in the communes where the money for the Volunteer Fire Department went – and this is not what the allegations are about. The data disclosed by the Ministry of Justice shows – which is confirmed by Mraz's tapes and internal analyzes by the fund's experts revealed on June 4 by “Gazeta Wyborcza” – that money from the Justice Fund was intentionally transferred to the Volunteer Fire Department in those communes that were located in the electoral districts of Sovereign Poland politicians.

So it was about making an election campaign. Politicians of Sovereign Poland were responsible for a wide stream of public money that flowed to the Volunteer Fire Department in selected districts. With what effect – that's another question.

READ ALSO: Ziobro's people and the Justice Fund scandal. Who is who?

201 of PLN 224 million – to the constituencies of Sovereign Poland politicians

The infographic published on May 28 by the Ministry of Justice allows you to trace when and where funds from the Justice Fund awarded outside competitions went to. There is also a map divided into counties and electoral districts. It follows that up to PLN 201 of PLN 224 million allocated in 2019-2023 based on a special subscription went to the districts in which members of Solidarna Polska (later Sovereign Poland) ran.. It's about couples. 11 of the regulation on the Justice Fund: “in justified cases” allowed for the allocation of funds at the discretion of the administrator, i.e. the then Minister of Justice.

Infographic showing how Justice Fund funds will be distributed to volunteer fire departments in 2023Ministry of Justice

Former director of the ministry: “it wasn't like the commune wrote to the Fund”

Let's go back to those published by Roman Giertych recordings from March this year. Tomasz Mraz, former director of the Justice Fund department, presents a different scheme for distributing funds from the Fund than the one currently indicated by Sovereign Poland. According to Mraz, the candidates of this party – including its leader Zbigniew Ziobro – had a decisive influence on the allocation and distribution of money.

During the conversation, Mraz noted that “it was not the case that the commune wrote to the Fund asking for co-financing of equipment.” “It was often a politician of Sovereign Poland who, as part of his political activity in his district, went to meet the authorities and said that they could get PLN 20, 30, or 50,000 and that they should just prepare an application,” he said. “I saw how it worked in the 2019 campaign. It was disgusting,” Mraz said. “There were cases where 130 votes were bought for PLN 800,000,” he added.

“The politician went to the commune, said: 'You will get 30,000, just think of what to buy it'. He went to another commune, said: 'Let's take a photo, think of what you want to buy and you will get the money',” Mraz reported. He added that “these funds were also used during the presidential campaign in Rzeszów by Minister Marcin Warchoł” (this concerns the campaign in the early presidential elections for the president of Rzeszów in 2021 – ed.). “He was given a special limit for this. Almost two bubbles. His people went around the units and said: 'How many votes will you give?'” – said Mraz.

Millions for the Volunteer Fire Department in the districts of Sovereign Poland's candidates

We checked on the interactive map of the Ministry of Justice how much money went to the Volunteer Fire Department in the districts where Sovereign Poland politicians ran in the 2023 Sejm elections. Both during the campaign and in the pre-campaign, which lasted from the beginning of 2023, they appeared regularly in their districts. They boasted, among other things, subsidies for volunteer firefighters. Even then, they were accused of using public money to run campaigns.

In the 2023 election year, 794 grants to the Volunteer Fire Department across Poland received a total of PLN 57.6 million from the Justice Fund – the highest amount in the analyzed period. In previous years, less was transferred to the Volunteer Fire Department: – in 2019 – PLN 25.4 million (217 subsidies) – in 2020 – PLN 37.4 million (370 subsidies) – in 2021 – PLN 9.6 million (180 subsidies) – in 2022 – PLN 17.2 million (283 subsidies). The largest subsidies for the Volunteer Fire Department were transferred in 2023 to those districts in which – as it later turned out: the leading politicians of Sovereign Poland ran successfully – PLN 38.4 million. We analyzed the cases of six politicians in whose districts such subsidies were the largest.

Most – PLN 4.3 million flowed to district no. 15 (Tarnów and the surrounding area). Two Sovereign Poland candidates ran there from the Law and Justice list. Norbert Kaczmarczyk he obtained 11,926 votes and got into the Sejm. Piotr Sak it didn't work out. 10,292 people voted for him.

PLN 4 million went to district no. 23 (Rzeszów, Tarnobrzeg and the surrounding area). The following people ran there: the party leader Zbigniew Ziobrothen Minister of Justice, and also Marcin Warchoł – then his deputy, and then Minister of Justice in the two-week government of Mateusz Morawiecki. Ziobro obtained 74,952 votes and was re-elected to the Sejm. This was the best result among the candidates in this district.

Marcin Warchoł also achieved success in the elections – he won 26,750 votes. He published it six days before the parliamentary elections on the X platform information about the grant from the Justice Fund: “Congratulations to the Biedaczów-Gwizdów Volunteer Fire Department from the Leżajsk Commune on receiving funding from the #JusticeFund for a fire truck. May Saint Florian watch over you in your demanding and honorable service.” And he attached photos showing that he participated in handing over the car to the firefighters.

To district no. 7 (Chełm and surroundings) Marcin Romanowskithe then deputy minister of justice (remember: responsible for the Justice Fund), flowed PLN 3.9 million. He won 17,318 votes and got into the Sejm. That's almost 10 thousand. more votes than Romanowski received four years earlier in the same district (7,436). It was this result that the internal analysis of the Fund's experts was devoted to, fragments of which were “Gazeta Wyborcza“. They directly assessed that “the SF effect did not work.” According to experts, “over PLN 8 million went to the Volunteer Fire Department” in the district from which Romanowski ran. They also compared the expenditure in individual communes with his electoral result. The Turobin commune received PLN 800,000. (Romanowski received 100 votes), the Goraj commune also received PLN 800,000 (138 votes were cast for Romanowski), in Tomaszów Lubelski Romanowski received PLN 155,000 from the Justice Fund , 112 votes were cast for Romanowski – we read in “GW”.

PLN 3.7 million received Volunteer Fire Department units in district no. 30 (part of the Silesian Voivodeship). He ran for the Sejm there Michał Woś, then deputy minister of justice. He got in. 39,902 voters voted for him. This was the best result not only in the local Law and Justice list, but also among all candidates. March 2, 2023, long before the official start of the campaign, Woś he boasted on Facebook “another support for the Volunteer Fire Department from our region!” “The Volunteer Fire Department units in #Rudnik, #Strzybnik and #Modzurów received new equipment worth over PLN 30,000! Firefighters are the ones who take care of our safety with great effort and dedication. That is why it is very important to equip the Volunteer Fire Department units with versatile equipment. applications,” he wrote. He added three photos. He poses with firefighters. Everywhere there is a clear indication that the equipment was purchased from the Justice Fund.

Also PLN 3.7 million subsidies were awarded to firefighters in district no. 22 (part of the Podkarpackie Voivodeship), where they ran for office Piotr Uruski and Maria Kurowska. They both got into the Sejm, winning 22,703 and 20,813 votes, respectively. Uruski's result was third on the list and fourth among all candidates in the district. Kurowska in September 2023 she boasted about one of the subsidies for the Volunteer Fire Department. “The amount of PLN 50,000 from the Justice Fund and PLN 20,000 from the Jasło Commune was donated for the purchase of a quad. The quad will make work in difficult terrain much more efficient, and will also be useful for transporting heavy pumps and rescue equipment in places inaccessible by car,” she wrote. She also published a photo of her handing the keys to the quad bike to the interns.

PLN 3 million transferred to district no. 14 (part of the Lesser Poland Voivodeship). The candidate of Sovereign Poland ran there – successfully – in 2023 Edward Siarka. He got 14,216 votes

Main photo source: Sebastian Borowski/PAP

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