News that Matti Ahde also got KMS money colours SDP party congress
Heinäluoma urges Prime Minister Vanhanen to cut short Asian tour
The opposition Social Democratic Party faced an election campaign financing controversy of its own on Thursday, when the Oulu-based newspaper Kaleva revealed on the first day of the party’s congress that the election campaign of MP Matti Ahde had received a contribution of EUR 10,000 from the KMS association for his election campaign last year.
Ahde told Helsingin Sanomat that funding from KMS was offered to him by Nova Group CEO Tapani Yli-Saunamäki.
“I don’t know anyone else there”, Ahde said on the first day of the party's congress in Hämeenlinna.
Ahde said that he did not know who was behind the association, and that he had not asked Yli-Saunamäki where the money came from.
“I did not feel that it was significant”, Ahde said. “Although I know now who is there, I do not know them. For me, it was an association, and not a company.”
The money was channeled through the Oulu Workers’ Association for Ahde’s election campaign. Asked why he did not disclose the funds in his report on election funding, Ahde responded: “Good question. It was probably something about one association giving money to another. But it was a clear mistake”, he admitted
Since the election campaign furore broke out, Ahde has returned the money to the association.
The campaign finance affair was a major topic at the party congress. Outgoing SDP leader Eero Heinäluoma accused Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen (Centre) of escaping the furore by travelling to Korea.
“I urge the Prime Minister to return home forthwith and to take the political crisis that has emerged seriously.”
Heinäluoma saw the activities of KMS to be strange, and feels its contacts with the Centre Party are too close. The Centre “owes quite an explanation”, Heinäluoma said.
In a political discussion on the matter, Pirkanmaa representative Alpo Jokinen summed up the feelings by saying that ruthless businessmen had "bought" Finland’s centre-right government.
Heinäluoma appeared to label the case of Matti Ahde as a Centre Party trick. In his speech he said that the Centre Party’s “own village is on fire”, and to divert attention, the party is lighting fires in neighbouring villages.
Prime Minister Vanhanen briefly commented on the election campaign finance affair on a television news broadcast on the MTV3 network.
“If the opposition makes an interpellation on the matter, the government will respond to it later", said Vanhanen.
Previously in HS International Edition:
HS Gallup: Filatov and Tuomioja equally popular in race for SDP leadership (25.2.2008)
Eero Heinäluoma to give up SDP leadership (11.2.2008)
Tuomioja to run for chairman of Social Democratic Party again (14.1.2008)