Opinion: Shooting the messenger

POSTED: 10/7/11 2:24 PM

Pueblo Soberano has decided that shooting the messenger is more effective than focusing on the message as far as the Rosenmöller Committee report Do It Yourself is concerned.
How, Pueblo Soberano is left wondering in Amigoe, can somebody who has fallen into discredit for illegally accepting money come here and investigate our internal affairs?
That is probably a valid question. However, knowing how much Pueblo Soberano loves rhetoric, we thought it useful to examine the question’s validity. Did Rosenmöller at one time or another do something that qualifies as illegally accepting money?
We figure that, to accept money illegally, it has to be paid under the table. Or it has to be paid into an offshore bank account in some obscure legal entity. It comes from criminals, or it is a bribe from a company that used Rosenmöller to achieve certain goals.
We have concluded that Pueblo Soberano did a Wikipedia on Rosenmöller, found something it liked and twisted it for its own purposes.
On closer examination of the facts it turns out that Rosenmöller never did anything illegal; he never “illegally accepted money” from anybody.
But there is no smoke without fire, right? So what exactly did Pueblo Soberano read on the Internet?
Rosenmöller was the faction leader of GreenLeft and in that function he campaigned against Pim Fortuyn, a populist politician whom he considered extreme rightwing. When Fortuyn was murdered in 2001, Rosenmöller received death threats at home, reason for him to leave politics and chose a career with lower risks.
In 2003 he became the chairman of Pavem, a committee that dealt with the participation of women from ethnic minority groups. Princess Maxima was also on this committee. In 2005 the rightwing Telegraaf reported that Pavem paid Rosenmöller €70,000 (just over $95,000 at today’s rate) per year – a bit overrated since the work on the committee took only one day a week.
There was nothing illegal about the payment, but his former colleagues in the Second Chamber simply thought it was a bit over the top. After parliamentarians asked questions about it, Rosenmöller voluntarily paid back €25,000 ($34,000).
The former GreenLeft leader and former harbor unionist remained in demand though. In 2007 he led a committee that advised about obesity and in the same year he became a board member of the Dutch National Railway.
Rosenmöller has always been a staunch critic of the culture of greed in the Netherlands, but in 2007 it appeared that he had violated the so-called Balkenende-standard, a rule that says that nobody is entitled to a higher salary from public funds than the Prime Minister. That standard stood at 123,133 in 2004, but in that year Rosenmöller earned €200,000 ($272,600) from public broadcaster Ikon, UWV and two ministries – and he should have reported this. Under pressure of public criticism, Rosenmöller repaid €23,144 (about $31,500) in 2007. Pueblo Soberano will love this one: Rosenmöller received this money for taking part in a committee that advised the Dutch cabinet about the future of the Netherlands Antilles.
It is therefore correct to say that Rosenmöller has lived well of functions that were paid from public funds since he left politics. But did he “illegally accept money”?
There was nothing illegal about the payments that were made to him. They were – and this is where things become interesting – not exactly ethical. Rosenmöller knew better and he should have acted accordingly. Instead, he chose to keep the money that was offered to him (though not via numbered bank accounts or any other shady method), and he only paid some of it back when he became the target of public criticism.
Does this make Rosenmöller unfit for the job he did in Curacao. Not necessarily, but his background provided Pueblo Soberano with some useful ammunition to shoot down a report that seems otherwise solid and to the point. What a pity.

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