Mikl-Leitner interrogated – U committee: “Grüß Gott” at the beginning, bickering at the end

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Mikl-Leitner interrogated – U committee: “Grüß Gott” at the beginning, bickering at the end

The questioning of the governor of Lower Austria, Johanna Mikl-Leitner (ÖVP), in the ÖVP’s corruption investigation committee again degenerated into a squabble over the admissibility of questions. Right at the start, Mikl-Leitner lamented that because of the state’s upcoming election campaign, “the last dams broke.” The ÖVP objected mostly in vain to repeated questions from SPÖ faction leader Kai Jan Krainer about the Media Contacta agency – but again no meaningful answers were forthcoming.

The day of the poll got off to a very friendly start: Mikl-Leitner opened with a “Hello, dear members” – which was also an allusion to the bizarre greeting debate that had just begun. Immediately afterwards, the governor of Lower Austria said in a short statement that her survey was “pure, clumsy election campaign”. Lower Austria will elect a new state parliament on 29 January. “For some, the last dams are breaking in terms of responsible use of the important control tool U-Committee.”

The head of state was only questioned last week. But because concrete answers remained scarce in view of the discussions about the regulations, the opposition – much to their dismay – invited Mikl-Leitner again. Just like last week, SPÖ politician Krainer asked about the Media Contacta agency. The general director had already been questioned in the U-committee because she received some orders from ÖVP-led ministries and the same office worked for the ÖVP in the 2017 National Council election campaign and also for the Lower Austrian ÖVP in the state of 2018 election campaign.

The SPÖ deputy said that the agency used the funds it received from the ÖVP-led ministries for the election campaign of the Lower Austrian ÖVP. This should be documented, for example, by the agency’s tax files, in which the cars used by the ÖVP in the state election campaign were booked as operating expenses of Media Contacta.

Judge: “It’s Facts”
The questions about the connection to the Lower Austrian ÖVP met with strong resistance from the Turkish faction – these were not the subject of the investigation. The ÖVP found “insinuations” – which, however, were largely rejected by Judge Christa Edwards. “They use the word innuendo as an argument for manslaughter,” she told ÖVP deputies Andreas Hanger and Christian Stocker. “It’s the facts on the table that are worth asking,” Edwards argued. Of course, there is always a tightrope walk between accusations and a scenario that is understandable. But that’s exactly what the information provider is there for, to answer such questions. “The U-committee wouldn’t be needed if we already knew everything.”

Therefore, Mikl-Leitner had to answer most of the questions. But little knowledge had been gained – she knew the director of Media Contacta and also knew that the agency had handled the election campaign of the Lower Austrian ÖVP. Its organization, however, was up to the state party secretary. Hanger and Stocker took it upon themselves to straighten out the “insinuations”. The fact that the campaign cars were part of Media Contacta’s operating costs says nothing. As a customer, you could still have been billed to the Lower Austrian ÖVP.

The head of the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets canceled the visit
Mikl-Leitner’s interrogation marks the temporary end of the U committee. However, the three opposition parties SPÖ, FPÖ and NEOS have agreed on an extension until the end of January. The number of research days still to be completed is still under negotiation. The second person invited to provide information before Wednesday, FMA boss Eduard Müller, has canceled his attendance.

Source: Krone

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