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Cablegate: Nrw Election Chess Game Iii: Ruettgers' Rook in Action -

VZCZCXRO3383
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHNP RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSK RUEHSL RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHDF #0016/01 0561652
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 251650Z FEB 10
FM AMCONSUL DUSSELDORF
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0006
INFO EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
FRG COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DUSSELDORF 000016

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV GM
SUBJECT: NRW Election Chess Game III: Ruettgers' Rook In Action -
Krautscheid Rejects Any Accusation of Corruptibility

REF: DUSSELDORF 12; DUSSELDORF 14

Strong denial of corruptibility by NRW state government

--------------------------------------------- ----------------------
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1. (U) Andreas Krautscheid, the new Secretary General of the North
Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) Christian Democrats (CDU), testified
February 25, in his capacity as Minister for European and Federal
Affairs, to a special session of the State Parliament's Main
Committee. Krautscheid strongly rejected accusations of
corruptibility, voiced by the opposition against Minister-President
(M-P) Juergen Ruettgers in connection with the so-called CDU
"sponsoring affair", which broke over the weekend (reftel A).
Krautscheid stated firmly, "During the past years there have never
been any special appointments paid for by sponsors (of the CDU),
either with the Minister-President or with any other member of the
NRW state government." (Note: Krautscheid will relinquish his
ministerial functions the week of March 1. End note.)

An "unacceptable offer" and an "organizational failure" at CDU
headquarters

--------------------------------------------- ----------------------
---------------------------------

2. (U) Krautscheid did not mince words, denouncing the letter to
potential sponsors, that originated with an employee at NRW CDU
headquarters, and which triggered the scandal as "unacceptable,
immoral and violating all political rules of conduct." At the same
time, he stressed that neither Ruettgers nor then-NRW CDU
Secretary-General Hendrik Wuest knew anything about this offer.
This showed an "organizational failure" at CDU headquarters, for
which Wuest took responsibility and resigned.

Opposition tries to sow doubts about Ruettgers' credibility

--------------------------------------------- ----------------------
--------

3. (U) SPD opposition members raised doubts about the credibility
of Ruettgers' assertion that he knew nothing about these fund
raising practices, referring to a leaked e-mail of 2006 from CDU
party headquarters to one of Ruettgers' advisors at the State
Chancellery, which, according to the opposition, suggested that
Ruettgers was informed. Krautscheid refuted these accusations as
baseless. The e-mail had nothing to do with sponsoring and fund
raising and was clearly sent in a different, completely innocent
context. He countered this opposition attack by pointing out that
he could easily present documents showing that during the former
SPD government there were the same - if not even closer -
connections between party headquarters and the State Chancellery.

Comment

-------------

4. (SBU) On day 5 of the NRW election chess game in the wake of the
CDU sponsoring scandal, Ruettgers' rook Krautscheid has entered the
game decisively, in a move clearly designed to put the CDU back on
the offensive. True to his reputation as a forceful and eloquent
politician, Krautscheid gave a convincing performance at the
February 25 hearing. Opposition hopes to drive the CDU and
Ruettgers further into a corner - with the ultimate goal of forcing
Ruettgers to resign before the May 9 state election - did not pan
out. However, the game has only just begun, and the SPD opposition
is likely readying its next gambit for the Dortmund election
campaign convention this coming weekend. End comment.

DUSSELDORF 00000016 002 OF 002


5. (U) This message was coordinated with Embassy Berlin.
WEINER

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