The group United We Can for Andalusia – previously called Adelante Andalucía – will have to return to Parliament 20,000 euros that the previous management, in the hands of Teresa Rodríguez, improperly allocated to the rental of two apartments in Seville for eight of its deputies, in addition to a donation of 700 euros to an NGO. Both expenses are “incompatible” with the use of the subsidies received by the groups from the budget of the Andalusian Parliament, according to the final report on the audit of the specific accounting of the parliamentary groups, prepared by the auditor of the Chamber, and at that elDiario.es Andalucía has had access.
The General Intervention of the Andalusian Parliament, the body that oversees the correct use of the subsidies received by the parties, issued a report last September demanding from Adelante Andalucía the “refund” of almost 20,000 euros that were used, improperly, for rent of two floors in Seville, where eight deputies stayed between July and December 2020. The auditor warns that the operating funds of a parliamentary group are “incompatible” with the costs of renting and maintaining a home, because their honorable Members already receive “compensation for this purpose” [hasta 2.000 euros para aquellos diputados andaluces que no tienen su residencia habitual en Sevilla, sede de la Cámara legislativa].
A complex step
The Bureau of Parliament, the governing body of the Chamber, has received the report from the auditor, but has not yet formally submitted the request for reinstatement to those responsible. In reality, this step is more complex than it seems, because neither today the parliamentary group is called as it was then, nor its current leaders – those who will have to return the money – are responsible for those rental contracts: when the “incompatibility” of the expense that the intervener denounces, the Adelante Andalucía group was piloted by its former leader, Teresa Rodríguez, and the eight deputies who were staying in the rented flats were expelled from the group and are now not attached.
The breakdown in the rental costs of both apartments amounts to 16,185.12 euros for leasing between July and December of last year; 2,032.80 euros for cleaning and 1,069.09 euros for gas and electricity. In total, 19,287.01 euros. “These amounts must be examined bearing in mind that the Chamber regularly pays its members compensation for this purpose”, warns the auditor, who cites article 8.1 of the Andalusian Parliament’s regulations, on the rules that regulate the allowances of their honorable Members for renting a home. “The expenses of renting a house for the lodging of the deputies that make up the group (whether it is an eventual use or not) and the expenses of gas, electricity and cleaning could incur in cases of incompatibility”, he concludes.
The Intervention also proposes that the Bureau request the “reimbursement” of an “exceptional expense” of 700 euros as a donation to an NGO to go by bus to a concentration in defense of a “certain law”, and recalls that “the donations to social groups cannot be understood as expenses necessary for the functioning of the parliamentary group “. It is an expense that Podemos Andalucía attributed to the Adelante group and that, according to the auditor “is not eligible.”
“Cause for reinstatement”
Both in the cost of renting the two flats in Seville and in the donation -the total amount amounts to 19,987 euros-, the Intervention concludes that “the amounts granted under the budget of the Parliament of Andalusia will be used by the parliamentary groups for the purposes that motivated its concession “. And he adds: “Failure to comply with the obligation of destination will be cause for reimbursement. It is up to the Bureau of Parliament, which grants the subsidy, to decide, where appropriate, the possible reimbursement of amounts.”
In February 2020, Teresa Rodríguez announced that she was leaving the general secretariat of Podemos and the formation in which she had been active since its creation. Shortly after, in order to maintain control of the party’s resources, there is a transfer of contracts -both the personnel and the rent of the aforementioned apartments- that until then were in the name of Podemos Andalucía and are passed on behalf of the Adelante parliamentary group Andalusia, which Rodríguez presided over. “The staff of the parliamentary group went from 2 to 22 workers in June 2020, oscillating in the second half of the year between 22 and 24 employees,” the report reads.
However, House Rules do not prevent a parliamentary group from using its own funds to hire staff. The General Intervention only speaks of “incompatibility” manifest in the contracts of the two floors – and a premises in Huelva – on behalf of the Adelante Andalucía group. The lease lasts until the end of 2020, although in November of that year, Teresa Rodríguez and ten other related Anticapitalistas deputies were expelled from the Adelante group by the Andalusian Parliament and became non-attached.
The request for expulsion, under the accusation of turncoat, was made by his former partners of Podemos and IU, who saw the Adelante group go from 17 deputies to the six it currently has. The final divorce of the old left-wing coalition ended this past summer, when the regional leaderships of IU and Podemos agreed to change the name of the parliamentary group, which was renamed United We Can for Andalusia. Even with a different name, it is the same parent group, hence the new management of this group has received the report of the General Intervention of Parliament denouncing the irregular use of those 20,000 euros of the last section of the mandate of Teresa Rodríguez.
The anger in the current leadership of United We Can is enormous, especially because just a few days ago, Teresa Rodríguez launched an allegation on social networks against the allowances for the rent of a house that the high officials of the Board receive, to counteract the Criticism of the Andalusian Government of Juan Manuel Moreno to the new Housing Law of the Executive of Pedro Sánchez and against the so-called youth rental bond, of 250 euros. Since the beginning of the legislature, the Cadiz leader has struggled to eliminate the allowances received by Andalusian deputies of Parliament, both those for displacement and housing, especially during the non-working months in which Parliament remains closed, but your honorable Members they continue to collect such compensation.
During the financial year 2020, the Adelante Andalucía group received 1.6 million euros in subsidies from its bank account from the Parliament’s budget. At the end of that year, he declared an expense of 1.2 million euros, and a remainder of 383,303.28 euros, according to the Intervention report. The balance of expenses includes the personnel item – “provision of services and advice specific to political activity” – which amounts to 387,424.80 euros, which would include this “evolution” from 2 to 22 workers for the group between June and December 2020. In December, when the group is already in the hands of the new management, the workforce drops again and with it the personnel costs.
The most squeaky point of the report is in section 116 of the aforementioned report, the one related to the rents of flats: it is about two houses in Seville and a space destined for an office in Huelva. The auditor asked the group for “lease contracts”, signed by the then manager of Adelante Andalucía (now manager of Podemos Andalucía). In the rental contract for the premises in Huelva, theoretically destined for Adelante’s “parliamentary office”, “the Podemos formation appears as the tenant, and not the Adelante Andalucía parliamentary group, therefore it is necessary that the tenant status corresponds to the group”, reads the report. And he adds: “The contracts for the two flats in Seville correspond to housing for the housing of deputies of the parliamentary group for the fulfillment of their functions.” In the contract for one of the flats, it is stated that the use “will be for the temporary residence of its representatives who have their residence outside of Seville”, and in the other contract for “habitual residence of certain persons”.
“Adelante’s non-attached deputies have always been very scrupulous”
The non-attached deputies, and Teresa Rodríguez herself, explain to this newspaper that “they have learned from the press that the Bureau of Parliament is claiming rent money from the parliamentary group of United We Can” for the flats they occupied when they belonged to the parliamentary group of Ahead. They complain that the Bureau has not informed them and that they have not been able to read the report. “In any case,” these sources add, “the non-attached deputies of Adelante Andalucía have always been very scrupulous with the question of privileges and the use of public money, they have always defended justifying expenses and, on the other hand, reducing them.” They defend that at the time they chose to rent “two houses for eight deputies”, because it was “a much lower expense than the one that most deputies of the Andalusian Chamber spend per hotel night every time they come to Seville.”
Rodríguez and the rest of the non-members have presented in Parliament initiatives so that the deputies have to justify the allowances they receive, whether they are used or not. One of their main demands has been to end privileges, initiatives that the rest of the parliamentary groups have always refused to accept. “The surplus of the allowances that the Adelante Andalucía deputies have always justified internally, have been donated to different social organizations or the organization,” they add. Among other things, the deputies not attached to Adelante proposed a reduction during the pandemic 60% salary. When Parliament rejected this, they applied it individually and donated it to the Andalusian Health Service.