United opposition candidate Szabolcs Kerek-Barczy discusses his opponent, Antal Rogan.
You cannot be a professional politician, get rich while in office, and be an honest person.
Szabolcs Kerek-Barczy is the Democratic Coalition (DK) candidate for Budapest’s 1st Electoral District. Kerek-Barczy is running a tight race against Fidesz incumbent Antal Rogan. Rogan’s campaign recently suffered a serious setback when it was revealed that he previously neglected to declare all of his personal assets.
The Budapest Beacon spoke to Szabolcs Kerek-Barczy about the scandal’s impact on his prospects for election to parliament on the United Opposition ticket.
The scandal behind Rogan’s questionable asset declarations must have been a huge boost to your campaign.
Everyone had known that something was wrong with Rogan’s lifestyle, but it’s been very difficult to prove anything because these guys are very smart in how they hide their assets. Fidesz’s leaders have always used public money as if it was their own.
It’s no secret that career politicians like Viktor Orban, Janos Lazar, Lajos Kosa, and Antal Rogan have amassed huge fortunes over their careers. It just so happened that in Rogan’s case someone found a clearly questionable detail in his declaration of assets and brought it to the public’s attention. Since then, the whole scandal has snowballed because Rogan can’t lie his way out of it.
The facts clearly show that the salary of Fidesz parliamentary faction leader Antal Rogan does not match with his assets. He has tens of millions of Forints in debt, yet he continues to keep acquiring assets and paying for things that his salary simply cannot support.
We calculated that based on his legally reported income, his assets, and the services he pays for. To put it kindly, the math indicates Rogan barely has enough money to put a loaf of bread on his table to feed his family.
It looks like Rogan’s problems are far bigger than a loaf of bread.
Yes, when it turned out last week that he had provided false information on last year’s declaration of assets, Rogan ran down to the parliament’s archives and modified it. The press caught on to this and starting questioning the impossibility of his asset holdings. He responded by saying it is not impossible because everything he has is jointly owned by him and his wife. Turns out he went to parliament’s archives again yesterday and added a few other things he forgot to mention earlier.
Within less than one week his asset declaration had been amended with pretty significant changes. All this begs the question: how on earth is he paying for all of this? It’s springtime in Hungary. Flowers are beginning to bloom, and the trees are growing. But the sudden growth of Rogan’s assets after this scandal found questionable detail is too much. I don’t mean to make a joke of it because it’s a serious issue.
But he does quite well for himself in political life. Can’t that explain why he’s got so many assets?
This guy has been lying about his assets. He doesn’t live on his legally reported salary.
Maybe he’s got some money saved up.
He has never worked in the private sector. His entire adult life has been spent in politics. His current salary doesn’t add up to HUF 2 million per month, he nets around 1.1 million.
That’s still a great salary.
Anyone who lives in this country knows that HUF 1.1 million is a huge salary compared to what the average Hungarian salary is, and that’s what makes Rogan’s scandal so shocking. Sure, a salary like that means you can afford to spend a couple hundred thousand indiscriminately during a month, and maybe have enough left over to pay for a family vacation. But you definitely won’t get rich off that. There’s no way that salary can afford HUF 60 million (USD 270,000) in loans, a leased car that costs between HUF 150,000-200,000 (USD 670 – 890) a month, a huge condo in the exclusive Pasaret district, a villa in Balatonlele and its upkeep, a house in his hometown, and private kindergarten for his child.
Rogan is the only person in his family who earns an income. His wife is a stay-at-home mother. It is mathematically impossible for this guy to live like this and it shows that he is getting money from somewhere else.
What do you mean?
Look, there are only three ways that Rogan could have acquired his wealth. First, he may have stolen that money from the taxpayers. Second, he may have received this money through corruption. Or third, all of the above.
There is no other way he could have amassed so much. Neither Rogan nor his wife come from a wealthy family. She does not work, and we know his official salary can’t cover this.
Has he offered any reasonable or believable explanation regarding his amassing of assets?
No. He says that he’s saved money and that his friends have loaned him money. So basically he’s living off debt and financing his debt.
Our people contacted several banks to find out what credit options Rogan would have if he wanted to get a loan like the kind he has. We found out that he would have to pay anywhere between HUF 500,000 (USD 2,200) to 600,000 (USD 2,700) per month just to service his debt. If you take into consideration the growth in his now amended asset declaration, his wife’s assets, and their expenses, you can see that none of what he says makes any sense.
You mentioned earlier that he has spent his entire adult life in public office and that he has zero private enterprise experience. There are a number of prominent politicians in Hungary who live impressively well despite spending their whole career in public office. One such person is Fidesz Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Are there any concerns about this?
Absolutely! He’s spent his whole life in public office and everyone here knows that he’s very well off. His wife doesn’t work, yet they have properties all over the country and his wife is a huge landowner in Hungary. It’s completely impossible for anyone who has spent their entire career serving in politics to have, let alone maintain, that standard of living with those kinds of assets.
How do you think the Hungarian public will respond to the Rogan asset scandal on Sunday?
I hope voters punish Rogan for stealing and lying. I hope they respond by replacing him with an honest person. I’m not a rich guy, but I am blessed to have what I need. My goal in life does not involve using my influence to abuse the public’s trust so that I can accumulate more for myself.
I’m a capitalist who supports a regulated but free economy. I don’t hate the rich, and I support an economic and social system that allows everyone the opportunity to work hard and become rich legitimately. Everyone should have that opportunity. And it is wrong to deny anyone the opportunity to work hard, flourish, and prosper. But no one should be allowed to become rich at the expense of public money. There are three things that cannot be done at the same: you cannot be a professional politician, get rich while in office, and be an honest person.
Rogan’s a professional politician who appears to have gotten rich while in office. He also says he’s an honest guy.
If you strive to get into public office you must give up your ambition to become rich. You have to let go of that emotion and way of thinking because you do not work for the private sector. You work for the people and represent them. The people need to be able to trust your intentions. If your intention is to get rich with taxpayer dollars while in public office, the people won’t trust you.
Peter Juhasz has been all over this Rogan scandal, too. You guys are from different parties and nearly became competing candidates in Budapest’s 1st Electoral District. How has working with Peter been?
We complement each other well. I’m running for parliament, which means that I formulate the political messages. Peter is incredibly effective and supportive in this campaign. I formulate my political messages based on the facts that Peter gets me. He’s really in tune with what’s happening around Hungary.