The Green Party reacted with demonstrative composure to investigations by the Berlin public prosecutor’s office into the payment of corona bonuses. The matter was already discussed in last year’s federal election campaign and “politically muddled through several times,” said party leader Robert Habeck on Thursday in Munich. “We are cooperating fully,” emphasized the new Federal Minister of Economics. “It will all clear up very quickly now.”
Habeck, who, like Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, is retiring from the party leadership in a week, is one of six members of the Green federal executive committee that the Berlin public prosecutor is investigating. Because five of these members are now sitting in the Bundestag, their immunity has been lifted. The prosecution received a report from Spiegel confirms that the initial suspicion of infidelity to the detriment of one’s own party is being investigated.
It is about special corona payments of 1500 euros, which the federal executive paid to every member and all employees of the party headquarters in 2020 to compensate for difficulties caused by the pandemic. The current investigations are not aimed at payments to employees. It is questionable whether the board members were allowed to grant themselves a corona bonus without submitting this to another instance for examination. The Greens agree. According to a spokesman, the federal executive board is the supreme executive body and “legitimate from the point of view of all those involved” to make such decisions.
The Greens don’t like to be reminded of Baerbock’s problems in the election campaign
The green Corona bonus became public knowledge because Baerbock failed to report additional income to the Bundestag in 2020. The income, which also included the Corona bonus, was reported later, but the Greens did not make the process public. Based on press reports, private individuals filed a complaint. They should not come from the ranks of the Greens. But there was also internal criticism in the party at the time: the special payments were excessive. A portion was then refunded.
The process will be “explained quickly and completely,” said Foreign Minister Baerbock on Thursday. Habeck emphasized that the public prosecutor’s office was obliged to clarify the facts and initiate preliminary investigations. Then the chapter will be “finally closed”. As a result of the investigation, it became known that the two former Greens state chairmen in Baden-Württemberg, Oliver Hildenbrand and Sandra Detzer, had also received a one-time corona bonus of 300 euros in November 2020.
In the Bundestag faction of the Greens, but also among party members, the events caused considerable irritation. In the matter, the debate is not new, it said. The failure of the party leadership to manage errors again was incomprehensible. Apparently, nothing was learned from Baerbock’s election campaign problems and those of her team. Deputy party leader Ricarda Lang is one of the board members who are being investigated. She is running as the new leader of the party. It should obviously stay that way.
However, it is unclear why the Greens did not inform themselves about the investigations against their board. A party spokesman did not want to say when those affected found out about it. The parliamentary manager of the Union faction, Thorsten Frei (CDU), called for rapid clarification in the Rheinische Post, “also for the sake of political credibility”.