Thursday June 10, 2021
“Kurz can change money now”
The Chancellor did not come out of the chat swamp
Written by Christian Bartlaw, Vienna
An indictment threatens, new revelations are found: the IPSA investigations take over the presidency of Sebastian Kurz. Now the news of the state’s worst ex-employer raises questions – it’s about millions of budgets and mutual aid.
You get used to people looking at their cell phones. In Austria, however, all domestic policy observers have been looking at the same cell phone for months: now former head of state Thomas Schmidt, a close confidante of Sebastian Kurz and a key figure in the IPSA investigation. The Attorney General’s Office collected the device at the end of 2019 and found about 300,000 messages in it, allowing for a deeper view of the power control room in Austria. Chats have already cost Schmidt his office, and Sebastian Kurz will do it False testimony broke the chargeThe alliance with the Greens may fail – new revelations are coming to light.
Yesterday, some Austrian media outlets reported on spicy news from 2016 onwards. At the time, Kurz was the youngest foreign minister in the European Union and the next man in the Conservative ÖVP, Schmidt, a senior finance ministry official – thus aiding Kurz. “You have a budget increase of more than 30%! We only did it for you. And more than 160 million! (…) You owe me something :-)))!”, He wrote to Kurs in April 2016. To Gernot Blumel, the finance minister today, there is already Kurz’s Atlas: “Kurz can change money now”.
The public prosecutor’s office finds here an answer to the question of how Schmidt was able to become the only powerful employer in the state, as a kind of reward for loyal service. This is another brush in the panorama of Turquoise power politics under Kurs, which emerges bit by bit in the IPSA investigation. It shows: A conspiracy group divides the state machine, surrounded by favorites and informants at all switch points.
“Hold on to me now”
Sebastian Kurs’ camp has frequently responded to new revelations over the past few months: Violent attacks on the judiciary. “Here a standard process is prepared according to conspiracy theory,” “Standard” quotes an ÖVP spokesman. In fact, Kurz’s foreign ministry faced key tasks, including the key refugee crisis.
According to the weekly newspaper “Folder” it was doubtful that the public prosecutor’s office had not used specifically 160 million euros. However, costs in one area have risen significantly: in the case of advertising, especially in the Austrian tabloid media, which has been high compared to Kurz’s, and sided with him during numerous scandals in recent months. Critical headlines? nothing.
Thus, Schmidt called his comrade “Gorbergelt” in Austria, meaning that money for consultants, PR and advertisements, hidden in the budget, were obviously available to the minister for free. Kurz could make good use of the funds even in the intra-party power struggle against his then-rival Reinhold Mitterlehner. Schmidt seems to know it, he wrote to Gernot Blumel: “I’m increased Sebastian’s budget by 35 percent. Now shout at me. Mitterlechner will be ugly.”
“Travel like a mob”
Annoyed by the young foreign minister’s ambitions for power, Mitterlehner resigned in May 2017. Kurz took over the ÖVP and soon called for new elections in which he won. In an alliance with the right-wing party FPÖ, Kurz later restructured state reserves and formed a government holding the ÖBAG. Became their employer: Thomas Schmidt.
Today, thanks to cell phone data, investigators know that Schmidt designed the ad himself and, like it, chose the board and then officially made him the boss. Sebastian Kurz did not want to play a key role, he explained to the IPSA inquiry committee. Chats on Schmidt’s cell phone speak a completely different language: “Don’t make me a team member without an order,” Schmidt asked. Briefly convinced and sent three kiss emojis and a memorable sentence: “You will get everything you want anyway”. Schmidt responded with more emojis: “I love my boss.”
Despite these chats, Schmidt was initially in office and his contract was due to expire, it was said at the outset. That’s the compromise that Vienna calls the “Austrian solution”. But a new load of news made Schmidt intolerant a few days ago: In an exchange with an employee, Schmidt complained that he had not received a diplomatic passport as a ÖBAG boss: “God, travel like a mob.” In another chat, he complains that he has to take his criminal record extract privately from a police station: “I hate you that I have to come to these animals for criminal records”. Capturing Schmidt would damage the state-owned company, the ÖBAG announced, and the deal was terminated immediately, with Schmidt reportedly receiving a gold handshake worth ,000 200,000.
Schmidt’s resignation is not just around Kurs: A week ago, former ÖVP Justice Minister Wolfgang Brandstater also resigned from his post as constitutional judge, to whom Kurz fired him. His inaction was also the result of chats in which he exchanged some messages with a senior official of the judiciary regarding sexual and racist relations. The officer in question has long been considered a kind of gray ÖVP in the Ministry of Justice, but has now been suspended – he is highly suspected of revealing official secrets, including house searches.
Still: Anyone who listened to Chief Public Prosecutor Ills-Maria Wrapple-Santa’s statements on the IPSA panel yesterday should get the impression that the ÖVP has set up several firewalls in the judiciary. The Office of the Prosecutor-Santa Public Prosecutor for Business and Corruption is investigating not only FPÖ boss Christian Strach on the IPSA campus, but also ÖVP Finance Minister Gernot Blumel and Sebastian Kurs. Inside and out “discredited.” We know it can affect anyone. I see this as an intimidating attempt. “
The opposition describes the ÖVP networks as “state within state”, while accusing ÖVP trial lawyers of “discrimination”. Eventually, however, the future of Sebastian Kurz will be decided politically. He asserted that his confession had been obtained through torture and that his confession had been obtained through torture. In this case, the signs should point to new elections, as Werner Kokler, Kursk’s Green Party deputy, recently revealed to the ORF: “The convicted federal president is unthinkable.”