Hugo de Jonge may have used private email in dodgy face mask deal
Several factions in parliament suspect that Minister Hugo de Jonge used a private email account in the controversial face masks deal when he was still Minister of Health. The three factions want clarification on this before 9:30 a.m. on Thursday - 45 minutes before a parliamentary debate about the face mask deal between the Ministry of Health and Sywert van Lienden.
Minister Conny Helder for Long-term Care will come to the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of the Dutch parliament, for that debate. She is responsible for investigating the deal. PvdA MP Attje Kuiken believes that De Jonge should be there to account for himself. She will submit another request to that effect.
Party leaders Laurens Dassen (Volt), Jesse Klaver (GroenLinks), and Pieter Omtzigt asked Minister Hanke Bruins Slot (Home Affairs) for an explanation on Monday. "Did the Rutte III Minister of Public Health, Welfare, and Sports use an iCloud email address for his work as a Minister, as emerged in the Government Information (Public Access) Act (WOB) documents about the coronavirus approach?" they want to know.
They referred to documents about the face masks deal recently released by the Ministry of Finance after the Volkskrant appealed to the WOB. Based on these documents, the newspaper reported that De Jonge gave Van Lienden an in at the Ministry by urging a senior official to contact him for face mask supplies.
The factions also want to know whether messages sent via De Jonge's iCloud email address are stored "securely and completely" and are included in WOB requests and a parliamentary inquiry into the coronavirus policy.
Transparency in decision-making is essential, Dassen said. "It is very unwise for a Minister to use a private telephone or email for work." According to him, this is done partly to prevent work-related messages from being viewed by the Tweede Kamer.
The three party leaders also want to know whether there are other Ministers from the previous and current cabinets who use private email addresses and messaging services like Signal, WhatsApp, and Telegram for their work. And if so, who they are. The Government Handbook "strongly discourages" using a private email account or messaging apps for work-related purposes.
Reporting by ANP.