It is an old adage that no one gets left behind in the Fidesz-KDNP party coalition, even after they leave the government. Recently resigned undersecretary for strategic affairs Balázs Sonkodi (pictured) might have set a new record when he landed himself a contract with the Prime Minister’s Office that tripled his salary just two weeks after his resignation, Magyar Nemzet reports.
The Prime Minister’s Office contracted Sonkodi for professional counseling regarding “the synchronization of government activities, governmental strategic control and preparing and implementing the economic policies of the government.” According to the contract, Sonkodi will receive a monthly gross salary of approximately HUF 3 million (USD 11,445) between June 15, 2017, and May 31, 2018. As an undersecretary, Sonkodi’s salary was a monthly gross of HUF 1 million (USD 3,816).
Magyar Nemzet contacted the Prime Minister’s Office to find out how Sonkodi’s new tasks differ from those as an undersecretary, and to what degree his responsibilities increased to justify his higher salary. The Prime Minister’s Office promised to provide answers by Monday.
Sonkodi – who is reportedly the right hand of Minister Overseeing the Prime Minister’s Office János Lázár – resigned on June 3. Lázár explained Sonkodi’s exit by saying that although Sonkodi’s contributions were essential in settling an agreement with the EU over the expansion of the Paks nuclear plant, the negotiations had successfully ended and a Minister without a portfolio has been appointed since then to oversee the expansion.
Sonkodi has been known to be a close aide to Lázár since the latter’s tenure as the mayor of Hódmezővásárhely. Sonkodi first came to the limelight when the then-independent news site Origo revealed that he accompanied Lázár as an interpreter on his controversial foreign trips that cost millions of forints in public funds but whose purpose Lázár declined to disclose with the public. The revelation of Lázár’s costly trips and the subsequent media lawsuits largely contributed to the acquisition and eventual transformation of Origo into a tentacle of the government propaganda complex.