CDA Groningen is mentioned in a note from Pieter Omtzigt
The Team Hugo from Groningen has used the address file to distribute letters among some members. The purpose of those letters was to get members to vote for Hugo de Jonge and thus make him party leader. Pieter Omtzigt was also in the race to become party leader.
Omtzigt’s secret note contains screenshots of the Team Hugo Groningen app group. This shows that party employee Jalt de Haan has the letters, provided with an address, ready for delivery. ‘Letters are ready! There have been 60’, he appts followed by two emoticons. The app group then asks whether the membership file may be used for campaign purposes. A few minutes later, someone else informs us that the party’s bylaws and statutes do not prescribe anything about the use of the membership base around campaigns. CDA party chairman René Bolle then shows that he has doubts about the use of the addresses: ‘I hope it is allowed, I have also sometimes sent Christmas cards to members, it was not intended for that either,’ he appt.
‘Not aware of any harm’
When asked, faction employee Jalt de Haan said that he was not aware of any harm at the time. ‘If it turns out that we weren’t allowed to use the membership file, then I regret it.’ De Haan says that he received a request from De Jonge’s national campaign team to distribute the letters. ‘Then the conclusion was drawn that we were allowed to use the addresses for this and if it turns out that it was not allowed, then that is a pity.’
‘The question was whether we wanted to distribute those letters to the members who are 80-plus, not all of them have internet and this letter would be intended for them. The letters were sent not only to our department, but also to other departments. If the Omtzigt team had asked for the addresses, we would have given them. There is really no ill intention behind this at all’, De Haan said by telephone.
De Haan emphasizes that the app group in question was not a secret group. ‘It was an open group that also included supporters of Omtzigt. Campaign teams for the candidates are also created around such an election campaign. You then get that members are committed to one or the other, that is also the case with other parties. I am and was for Hugo, but I have great respect for Omtzigt. I’m a thousand percent behind him.’
The CDA member does sound somewhat affected by the state of affairs. ‘I really support the values of our party and everything that is happening now is not in line with the CDA. All this was a far-from-my-bed show, but now it’s suddenly very close.’
CDA party chairman René Bolle finds the situation annoying and also says that there was no question of malicious intent. ‘We can now say that it was not allowed, but at the time it was checked and apparently not entirely correct. These are volunteers campaigning for a party leader and not about an internal struggle. I think Omtzigt is a very good Member of Parliament, but then it was about choosing a party leader and I think he is less suitable for that. We should take this document of his seriously and it is certainly a big thing, but I don’t think it has any specific consequences for our department.’