Munich (dpa) – As a result of the mask affair and corruption investigations against MPs, the CSU is tightening its rules for incumbent and future elected officials. That announced party leader Markus Söder on Sunday in Munich.
Among other things, there should now be “full transparency” on side income and participation of MPs, as evidenced by a ten-point plan by the party leadership: everything should be disclosed to the party and parliaments. “We want to have a complete and comprehensive picture, down to the smallest ramifications,” said Söder, emphasizing, “For a new CSU you need new rules and a new spirit.”
In the case of management duties for the CSU in parliaments, commercial side activities should be prohibited in the future, as well as paid representation of interests. And all men and women who want to run for the CSU in the future must sign a new “Declaration of Integrity” and adhere to the CSU Code of Conduct, which must be tightened up again. Serious violations of the Code are threatened with expulsion from the party. In addition, the CSU wants stricter rules of conduct for all members of parliament.
After the corruption investigation became public, former Bavarian Justice Minister Alfred Sauter resigned all party offices on Sunday, including his seats on the CSU board and presidium, as well as chairing the CSU’s finance committee. At the same time, he announced that he was leaving his parliamentary group membership – he defends himself against the threat of exclusion. That is not enough for the party leadership – the party and the group should now discuss what steps, if any, need to be taken, said Secretary General Markus Blume.
Clarifying individual cases is no longer enough, Söder said. The package of measures is necessary to protect the CSU. “As CSU, we are standing in the way of a central split. We are at a crossroads. It is now a matter of fundamental credibility, integrity and trust throughout the party, ”Söder emphasizes.
When asked, Söder said the CSU would “openly negotiate the most far-reaching proposals” in the case of side activities and party donations in the Bundestag. It remains to be seen whether this means that the CSU, like the SPD, requires disclosure of additional income from the first euro. “We have to see what is legally possible,” said Söder. Ultimately, the goal must remain maximum transparency.
The CSU’s ten-point plan states on the disclosure of additional revenues: “We will ensure full transparency with regard to parliamentary administrations about the additional revenues of MPs.” In principle, lawyers should still be able to invoke their duty of confidentiality, according to Blume. However, paid advocacy or business with the state is prohibited.
Professional activities in addition to the Bundestag’s mandate are permitted under the Deputy Act. Until now, parliamentarians have to declare their income for each activity if it is more than 1,000 euros per month or 10,000 euros per year. The information is published at ten levels – therefore the exact amount of the additional income is not known. According to information from Parliament watch.de, the share of part-time jobs in the CSU is the highest after the FDP.
Blume emphasized that the CSU stands for freedom of appeal for MPs – but a clean divorce is necessary. Söder warned, “Ultimately, you have to explain who you serve more: the office or the money.” The CSU boss stressed: “It should be clear to us: the mandate on behalf of the citizens is the main job and not the part-time job.”
The mask affair had recently become a major burden for the Union and especially for the CSU. Georg Nüßlein, a Bundestag member who has since left the CSU, is under investigation for initial suspicion of corruption. He had dismissed allegations of corruption in connection with a six-figure commission payment for the mediation of corona-protective masks to the state through his attorney. Meanwhile, the Munich Public Prosecutor’s Office is also investigating Sauter in this regard – he has also dismissed the allegations.
The district administrator of the CSU Schwaben called on Sunday “urgently” Sauter and Nüßlein to resign their seats in the state parliament and the Bundestag and threatened Sauter with a party expulsion procedure.
Most recently, Thursday, Bundestag CSU member Tobias Zech announced his withdrawal from the Bundestag due to potential “conflicts of interest”. The resignation has nothing to do with the affair surrounding corona protective masks. Rather, the background is allegations of merging mandate and entrepreneurial activities.
The Greens and the FDP called on Söder on Sunday to follow up the announcements with actions – regarding stricter transparency rules from the first euro on additional revenues and in the area of lobby registration.
State parliament CSU had issued an ultimatum to 70-year-old Sauter to “dispel the allegations plausibly and intelligibly”. A possible exclusion must then be decided in the new week if necessary. Sauter rejected this ultimatum. He wrote to Group Chairman Thomas Kreuzer that the investigation was now a matter for the public prosecutor’s office, so he did not comment. “And it is part of the rule of law to respect this.”
He has put his membership of the parliamentary group on hold until the end of the procedure, “although I am convinced that I have in no way violated my parliamentary duties or the law.” Exclusion of a parliamentary group would be “completely disproportionate”, he warned.
Sauter had already announced at the beginning of this month that he had signed a contract with a mask company. He recently admitted that “an extra amount had been paid in addition to the attorney’s fee” – but the remaining amount after deducting all taxes he had used for charity purposes, which was planned from the start. He did not mention sums or details.