Libertas denies Ganley is funding Polish campaign


LIBERTAS HAS denied reports that founder Declan Ganley will in effect personally bankroll the European election campaign of its newly founded Polish branch by guaranteeing bank loans for the party.

The Polish daily Dziennik at the weekend reported assertions from a Libertas Polska party source that the party hoped to raise a loan of €250,000 on the basis of guarantees from Mr Ganley.

Such a loan guarantee, although legal, would effectively circumvent Polish legislation that bans foreign funding of Polish domestic politics, and the suggestion has prompted a heated reaction in the country.

Libertas spokesman John McGuirk insisted yesterday, however, that Mr Ganley was not giving such guarantees. [The source in Libertas Polska] “ was asked a hypothetical question and he gave an answer he shouldn’t have,” said Mr McGuirk. “He answered it in a stupid manner, to be honest.”

Dziennik stood by its story yesterday, citing confirmation of the plan from several sources within the party.

Libertas insists it is financing its campaign to field candidates EU-wide in the June European elections through donations and fundraising.

History has left Poles acutely sensitive to foreign influence on domestic politics and the Libertas report has prompted concern that it could set a dangerous precedent in Polish politics.

“Today it’s Irish money, tomorrow will it be Russian money?” asked Dziennik opinion editor Michal Karnowksi.

“It’s a trick to get the money they cannot accept directly from abroad. It was obvious that Libertas Polska had no money of their own and that Ganley was going to give money, the question until now was just how he was going to do it.”

The Polish election commission, which can examine party financing only in the aftermath of an election, has, however, said campaign loans guaranteed by non-Polish citizens are legitimate. Leading figures in Poland’s ruling Civic Platform (PO) party called it “unsettling” for a party to “get money for elections from a person prohibited by law to do so”.

“This means to circumvent the existing rules,” said Zbigniew Chlebowski, PO parliamentary leader.

Dziennik claims that Libertas Polska will have access to €250,000, as will the Libertas party in Slovakia.

Libertas in Latvia, the newspaper claimed, would have funding of €100,000.

Mr Ganley says Libertas drew down €200,000 during last year’s Lisbon campaign in Ireland from a credit facility he put in place. Today is the deadline for Libertas to submit bank account statements for donations and a document certifying all donations received to the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO).