Transparency International (TI), a global corruption watchdog, will look into the financing of Czech presidential candidates’ campaigns.
TI plans to publish the results of its investigation before the election, which will be held in January 2013.
David Ondracka, director of TI’s Czech branch, has asked the Interior Ministry to contact and verify the identity of some of the people whose signatures have been collected by the candidates.
Presidential candidates need to collect signatures of at least 50,000 legitimate voters in order to file their presidential candidacy. TI wants the ministry to check the authenticity of 8,500 signatures on each list.
“At present, there is no office in the Czech Republic that would be in charge of supervising the financing of presidential campaigns. TI will try to accomplish this task and contribute to a transparent and responsible presidential election,” said Ondracka, adding that they get inspiration from US watchdogs such as Opensecrets.org.
“There are roughly 15 projects that scrutinize each dollar spent by the Obama or Romney campaigns.”
Leading candidate Jan Fisher, according to his campaign website, consulted the transparency of his campaign financing with Ondracek in advance.
TI’s project will be carried out jointly with Nasi politici (Our Politicians), a civic association which says it wants to monitor the composition of the campaign teams.
“The information of who is a campaign strategist or in charge of fundraising are usually not available at the candidates’ websites,” said a member of the association.
The project will have its own website at www.transparentnivolby.cz, due to be launched in November.
The main focus will be on the accessibility and understandability of campaign accounts.
“The current situation is that even though the candidates have open accounts, they are hidden on the web, it is user-unfriendly. If they cannot be easily found on the web, it cannot be considered an open and transparent access,” said Ondracka, giving as an example the open campaign account of ex-PM Milos Zeman, another leading candidate.
As for the party candidates, TI wants to know the origin of the funds provided by their parties.
Also, the watchdog wants the campaigns to reveal all PR and media firms they have contracted.