Final sprint in the U-committee with celebrity appearances

Before the Christmas break, the U-Committee is up and running again: Chancellor Nehammer and Governor Mikl-Leitner as witnesses

The sub-committee on the ÖVP corruption affairs is in the final sprint. In the final phase, the appearance of prominent witnesses is on the program – and you can tell from the people invited by the opposition that there is an election campaign in Lower Austria. Chancellor Karl Nehammer and Lower Austria’s ÖVP regional manager Bernhard Ebner are invited next Wednesday.

On Thursday, December 1st, it will be the turn of Lower Austria’s governor, Johanna Mikl-Leitner, who has also already confirmed that she will be there.

And this has prepared the opposition on topics:

Nehammer must expect questions about staffing in the Chancellery. Neos accuse Nehammer of continuing these controversial practices, unimpressed by the criticism of the ÖVP Postenschacher.

“Red Gsindel”

Mikl-Leitner is likely to be questioned by the SPÖ about her statement “Reds are Gsindel”. In 2016, when she was Interior Minister at the time, she sent this sentence to her head of cabinet via WhatsApp. When this chat became known, Mikl-Leitner apologized. In the current state election campaign, the memory of this statement could mobilize the SPÖ base, speculates a political strategist to the KURIER.

Controversial Minister

Eduard Müller is scheduled to be interviewed on the last day of the survey before the Christmas break, on December 7th. Müller was section head in the Ministry of Finance, finance minister in the Bierlein civil servant government and has been the head of the Financial Market Authority since February 2020. Müller is mentioned in Thomas Schmid’s testimony in connection with the Benko tax case.

Waiting for Smith

The U-Committee is then just waiting for Thomas Schmid to testify. His confession to the WKStA was completed at the beginning of December. After the interrogations were completed, the WKStA no longer raised any objections to Schmid’s testimony in the investigative committee. But Schmid could refuse so as not to incriminate himself.

For ÖVP MPs, donations are “secret”

On Thursday this week, Franz Hörl, the Tyrolean cable car lobbyist and MP for the ÖVP, was questioned by the U-Committee. The result was meager, the ÖVP constantly objected to the questions and Hörl said as little as possible. Sample: Hörl declares party donations from companies to be a “trade secret”, so he does not answer such questions. FPÖ MP Hafenecker: “If party donations are a trade secret, we can turn off the light here and go home.”

Billion distribution vehicle unnecessary

Before Hörl, the President of the Court of Auditors, Margit Kraker, provided information on the 19 billion corona subsidies via Cofag, which was specially founded for this purpose. It was about excessive salaries, consultant costs and too much help for companies. Kraker said that the Finance Minister at the time, Gernot Blümel, did not adequately document why Cofag was necessary at all. The Court of Auditors has no insight into individual funding cases. The Greens, as coalition partners of the ÖVP, had agreed to the Cofag construction.