The Conflict of Interest Commission decided on Wednesday that President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic had violated the principles of preserving her own credibility and impartiality in relation to the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party by paying the campaign money she received from the state budget into the HDZ account and instructing her former party where to donate the money.
The Commission said Grabar-Kitarovic had received HRK 1.17 million in compensation for the cost of her presidential campaign and had paid it to the HDZ, the party that nominated her as presidential candidate, so that it could later be used for humanitarian purposes.
Deputy Commission Chairwoman Tatijana Vucetic said that Grabar-Kitarovic had for a longer period of time instructed the HDZ how to distribute the financial donations the party had raised, namely to distribute the money to humanitarian organisations of her choosing.
Recalling that the president must perform her duties independently and in a non-partisan fashion, Vucetic said that by instructing the HDZ, the president failed to preserve her own credibility and impartiality and violated the principles of the conduct of state officials, in accordance with the Conflict of Interest Act.
In her response to the Commission, Grabar-Kitarovic said there was no collaboration with the HDZ, adding that the money had simply been spent the way she had promised during her election campaign.
The president also said that the entire case had been artificially construed. She is also confident the commission had overstepped its powers and entered political arbitration and this irreversibly damaged its credibility with the public.
The Conflict of Interest Commission in January launched a procedure against Grabar-Kitarovic to establish whether she had violated the principle of credibility of office-holders.