“It is incredible how the district general assemblymen finance their own parties right under our noses with money allocated to civil organizations without any sense of shame” – Peter Juhasz, Budapest District 5 assemblyman
Budapest District 5 assemblyman Péter Juhász pays close attention to what is going on in his district. And whenever he finds something unseemly, he quickly goes public with it. His latest scandal is that most of the civil grants to be paid out by Budapest District 5 are to be distributed to NGOs close to Fidesz-KDNP and MSZP district assemblymen, whose activities are primarily political in nature.
On Thursday the Budapest District 5 general assembly decided which civil organizations would receive grants totaling some HUF 45 million (USD 185,000). Altogether the District received 105 applications for grants totaling HUF 100 million, meaning that demand for exceeded supply.
At the start of the meeting Juhász called the assemblymen’s attention to the fact that 15 of the applicants were tied to Fidesz in that the main decision maker (or a family member thereof) was a general assemblyman, and that in many cases the address of the NGO was the same as the local Fidesz office, where the NGOs` activities also took place. Altogether the 15 NGOs in question applied for HUF 37.89 million (USD 150,000) of grants. In other words, if everyone wins the full amount, only some HUF 7 million (USD 25,000) would be left for the remaining 90 NGOs.
On his Facebook page Juhász wrote that he did not think NGOs linked to district general assemblymen, past or present, should receive support, as it would seem to constitute a conflict of interest.
Juhász’s entreaty notwithstanding, two-thirds of the money ended up being awarded to the fifteen NGOs, with 70 percent reportedly going to NGOs close to the Fidesz-KDNP alliance and 30 percent going to NGOs close to MSZP, the Hungarian Socialist Party. The assemblymen were not required to vote spearately on each allocation, only on the entire package.
Big winners included the “Living Downtown Civil Association” (Élő Belváros Polgári Egyesület) which received HUF 4.1 million (USD 15,000) to “promote relations between District 5 residents and members of the Fidesz delegation”. The organization is registered at 16 Veres Pálné street, the same address as the Fidesz office.
The Association for Youth and Solidarity received HUF 3.4 million (USD 12,000). The organization is represented by Fidesz-KDNP general assemblyman Bálint Mátyus. Over the previous five years the NGO reportedly received some HUF 20 million (USD 7,000) of grants. Its seat is registered at the same address as the Aulich Youth Club which has hosted numerous Fidesz youth association (Fidelitas) events.
The so-called Civil Association for the Downtown, whose representative works in the district notary’s office, recieved HUF 3.9 million. Registered at the same address as the district Fidesz office, over the past few years the association has received some HUF 64 million with which to publish Fidesz caucus leader Antal Rogán’s family newspaper, City Magazine.
The Downtown Smallholders Association (sic) represented by former Fidesz-KDNP assemblyman Dr. Sándor Bartai, was awarded HUF 2 million with which to “encourage solidarity among the downtown citizens “while “maintaining the cultural traditions of the downtown in the spirit of the smallholders.”
Former assemblyman Gabor Bródy also had reason to be happy. His “Association for a Successful Downtown” received HUF 2.3 million.
The “Downtown Gold-Cross Association” (Belvárosi Arany-Kereszt Egyesület), whose professed objective is the strengthening of Christian Democratic value systems and principles, was awarded HUF 2 million. It is represented by Krisztina Tesics, who was appointed by Fidesz-KDNP to sit on the oversight committee of the District’s own company, the so-called “Helping Hands and Active Years Nonprofit Kft.” According to investigative journalism site atlatszo.hu, between 2008 and 2011 the association received HUF 13.6 million (USD 5,000) of grants. Its registered place of business is 19 October 6th street, where the district KDNP office is located.
“It is incredible how the district general assemblymen finance their own parties right under our noses with money allocated to civil organizations without any sense of shame,” wrote Peter Juhasz.
As a district assemblyman, Juhász also has a HUF 300,000 allowance which he announced he would divide evenly among three different NGOs: Oltalom Karitative Association, a non-profit which helps families and the homeless, the EB OVO Public Association and the Red Nose Clown Doctor foundation, which tries to put a smile on the faces of children in times of trial. Of the HUF 1.5 million requested by the latter, it only received HUF 200,000 from the local government.