The Christian Democrats received €1.2 million in donations last year from publishing millionaire Hans van der Wind, the party has revealed in response to Pieter Omtzigt’s critical memo at the weekend.
Omtzigt, who cancelled his CDA membership after the document was leaked, said ‘almost €1 million of the [election] campaign budget appears to have come from three donors’, but did not name them.
In a statement on its website the CDA confirmed that one of the donors was Van der Wind, who made his fortune from the sale of educational book publisher Van Dijk. He is also chairman of the party’s fund-raising committee.
‘I have supported the CDA around election time since 2006 with substantial amounts from my businesses,’ Van der Wind said. ‘Those payments are correctly noted in the register of donations at the ministry for home affairs. There is nothing secretive about it.’
The law on political party funding requires all gifts of €4,500 more to parties or candidates to be registered, but donations received in the 21 days before this year’s election on March 17 do not have to be declared until next year.
The CDA said it was publishing its 2022 funding statement early ‘in order to be fully transparent about donations’.
In a separate development, 500 party members have signed a petition calling for a special congress to discuss Omtzigt’s departure and the memo he wrote to the Spies committee which is reviewing the CDA’s election campaign.
Under party rules a congress must be held if 10% of the membership demand it, which is currently around 300 members. Henriëtte van Hedel, spokesman for the Foundation for Social Christian Democracy which organised the petition, said a formal request would be made to the party on Wednesday.
Omtzigt complained that he had been overlooked for the leadership when Wopke Hoekstra took over from Hugo de Jonge in December, even though Omtzigt was a close runner-up in the leadership contest last July.
In the 76-page submission he criticised the party’s structure and mentioned that the three large donors ‘had an interest in attempts to make changes to the CDA’s plans.’
Omtzigt added: ‘Large donors have to be declared to the home affairs ministry, but I have not seen these three people [named] in the summary that was submitted before the elections’.
The CDA said in its response that donors had no way of influencing party policy. ‘The suggestion that gives rise to is inappropriate and something the CDA explicitly rejects. We deeply regret the impression that has been wrongly given, especially for the donors themselves.’
Omtzigt said the memo was intended for internal use only and he was unaware how it had been leaked to the Limburger website. Once its contents had been made public the 47-year-old, who has been signed off work with stress since May 25, said he was leaving the party ‘with pain in my heart’.
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