18 cabinet members committed breach of ethics when publishing partisan supplements on PL newspaper – Commissioner

Following a complaint based on an investigation by The Shift, Standards Commissioner declares public money spent on partisan supplements a breach of MPs’ ethics

 

An investigation by the Standards Commissioner into whether government MPs committed a breach of ethics when they used taxpayer money to fund a full 32-page supplement in one of the Labour Party’s newspapers, Kullħadd, has concluded that 18 Cabinet members breached ethical guidelines.

The complaint filed by Repubblika asked the Commissioner to look into a report published by The Shift that showed that government ministers and parliament spent almost €20,000 on a partisan supplement published by the Labour Party to commemorate Robert Abela’s first two years as Labour Leader. The MPs bought 28 out of the 32-page supplement.

In the report, George Hyzler, who has since then moved on to the European Court of Auditors, describes how 18 government ministers and junior ministers breached ethical guidelines meant to ensure a clear separation between the state and the party. The report was published today following a brief parliamentary committee hearing.

Most of the supplement published by the Labour Party’s Sunday paper involved rhetoric lauding the government’s achievements. The Shift reported this PR push the day after it happened, with NGO Repubblika filing the official complaint that led to Hyzler’s report.

“While the newspaper, Kullħadd, had every right to publish a supplement of this kind, the ministers should not have used public funds to support the supplement, which is effectively what happened,” Hyzler’s conclusions state.

“This expenditure, which amounts to €16,700, represents a lack of separation between the role of a minister and the role of a member of a political party as well as representing a bad use of public funds,” the report continues.

Hyzler also adds that there was a breach of impartiality from the public service since ministerial expenditure requires approval from higher officials, who were then put in a situation in which they authorised the expenditure of public funds for political gain.

Amount of money spent on each Kullħadd supplement by each minister.

In particular, two ministers and one parliamentary secretary committed a serious breach of ethical guidelines – Ian Borg, Edward Zammit Lewis, and Chris Agius.

Zammit Lewis was considered to be the most serious offender since his ministry’s advert referred directly to the prime minister as well as the party while generally boasting of the ‘successes’ achieved.

Similarly, Borg’s advert also featured self-promoting propaganda which Hyzler described as a “partisan declaration”. Agius’ advert, which was full of pictures of himself, was clearly designed “to publicise the individual and not the government’s work”.

                           
                               
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KLAUS
KLAUS
1 month ago

The Maltese people have been punished with further and unnecessary costs.
(Who knows what skeletons are still in the closet).

And what about the perpetrators?

Will they receive a monetary penalty from the state, which they will have to pay personally? Or is this once again just a template for the next time?

Godfrey Leone Ganado
Godfrey Leone Ganado
1 month ago

Misappropriation of public funds, rather than misuse.
Misuse means using funds ‘given to you’, in an inappropriate way.
These funds were not given but misappropriated from the taxpayer.
Thank you Shift, and thank you Repubblika.
By any chance, has anyone spotted the Opposition?

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