Almost 1 in 6 provincial administrators are not open about additional positions

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Almost one in six provincial administrators hold an additional position without disclosing this, according to research by BNR. Among them are provincial leaders of the VVD, SGP and ChristenUnie.

In order to prevent conflicts of interest, deputies and commissioners in most provinces must publish an overview of their ancillary positions online. BNR compared these registers with public data from the Chamber of Commerce and checked whether directors held positions that had not been made public. Of the 80 provincial administrators in our country, 13 had a position that was not listed online at the time of the survey.

According to provincial administrators, these were often administrative errors. For example, deputy Bert Boerman (CU) from Overijssel was missing no less than three additional positions, according to his spokesperson the result of the transition to a new website. ‘During the move, someone forgot to put those functions on the site. The functions have now been added,” he said.

Almost one in six provincial administrators hold an additional position without disclosing this. One of them is the VVD party leader in North Holland, Esther Rommel. (Michael van Bergen)

‘Decided after research that publication was not mandatory’

But in other cases, features appear to be deliberately left unlisted. For example, deputy Cees Loggen (VVD, North Holland) is the owner of a BV that is missing on the province’s site. According to his spokesperson, this is a stamrecht BV, a tax construction that is used to have a severance payment paid out in a more favorable tax manner.

‘At his installation, Mr. Loggen reported the BV to the external committee that performed the screening of the candidate deputies and reported it to the King’s Commissioner, in accordance with the guidelines of the Interior,’ the spokesperson writes. ‘At the request of Mr. Loggen, research has been done into the necessity of publication.’ Because the Stamrecht BV did not pay out any money while Logging was in office, ‘it was decided that publication was not mandatory’.

Closed case still turns out to be a source of income

Other board members also appear not to disclose additional positions publicly, but to report them to the ministry. Until recently, Esther Rommel (VVD, North Holland) stated online that she had closed her one-man business as a tax lawyer when she joined the provincial government. However, her registration as a self-employed person is still active and inquiries show that she also still earns money with her business. “She reports her income to the Ministry of the Interior,” writes a spokesperson. The information on the website of the province of North Holland has now been adjusted.

According to Arco Timmermans, professor by special appointment of public affairs at Leiden University, such omissions damage confidence in the provincial government. ‘Just mention it,’ says Timmermans. ‘If you don’t, it gives the impression that you have something to hide.’

Patchwork of codes of conduct

The Provinces Act obliges deputies to publish such functions, but this does not have to be done online. According to the law, ‘deposit for inspection at the provincial house’ is sufficient. Additional codes of conduct vary from province to province. For example, that of South Holland requires online publication, but elsewhere this obligation is absent. Timmermans therefore advocates a single national regulation. ‘Just let the Interprovincial Consultation make standard rules,’ says Timmermans. ‘Right now regulations depend too much on fuss here or there.’

Overview of non-disclosed additional positions

Rene Paas (CDA – King’s Commissioner – Groningen)

Board member of the Kraus-Groeneveld Foundation

‘We suspect that this position has not been listed on the province’s site since April 2016, when Mr Paas succeeded CdK Van den Berg. Apparently something went wrong then. The CdK is officially represented when the board meets.’

Johan Hamster (CU – Groningen)

Vice-chairman of the Association of Groningen Municipalities

“This was an unpaid position that was associated with the position of Mr. Hamster as an alderman at the municipality of Stadskanaal. With the end of the aldermanship – on January 26, 2022 – this position also ended. On Friday, March 10, a check was carried out at the VGG, the change was passed on a long time ago, but it had not yet been processed. This was discovered when the annual accounts were drawn up.’

Berend Potjer (GroenLinks – South Holland)

Treasurer of the Friends Group GroenLinks Zuid-Holland Foundation

‘The data at the Chamber of Commerce are outdated: in 2019 Sinan Özkaya took over this unpaid role from Berend. GroenLinks will adjust this.’

Jeannette Baljeu (VVD – South Holland)

Member of the Supervisory Board of the Netherlands Maritime Research Institute Foundation

“This is a paid position. The position was neatly reported internally, but unfortunately it did not end up directly on our website. Thanks to your notification, it is now on our website.’

Harry Maas (SGP – Zeeland)

Party secretary for the SGP Group Zeeland Support Foundation

‘Each party divides the functions. Also SGP Zeeland. Is not listed under ancillary positions, nor does it intend to do so.’

Hans Oosters (PvdA – Utrecht)

Board member of Klein Bretelerfonds

The chairmanship of the Supervisory Board of Pieter van Foreest ended the CVDK on October 1, 2022. With that, the board membership of the Klein Bretelerfonds automatically came to an end. Apparently this has not yet been adjusted by the organization. The commissioner asks the organization to do so. Compensation has been paid into the provincial fund.’

Bert Boerman (CU – Overijssel)

Chairman Stichting Kampen International Cooperation, treasurer Stichting Een Helpende Hand aan Romania and member committee of recommendation Stichting Behoud Bovenkerk Kampen.

‘The province of Overijssel has switched to a new website, and someone forgot to put those functions on the site during the move. The functions have now been added.’

Cees Loggen (VVD – North Holland)

General director and sole shareholder of Icelo BV

‘Mr. Loggen’s BV is a standing right BV and is not remunerated. At his installation, Mr. Loggen reported the BV to the external committee that screened the candidate deputies and reported it to the King’s Commissioner, in accordance with the guidelines of the Ministry of the Interior.’

Rosan Kocken (GroenLinks – North Holland)

Stichting Beheer Derdengelden Kocken Van der Stel

‘This function should indeed (yet) have been on it. The documents for deregistration are now with the Chamber of Commerce. We’ve now added the feature to her page until the unsubscribe is official.”

Esther Rommel (VVD – North Holland)

Sole Proprietorship Fiscalibre

‘Unfortunately, the information on our website was incorrect. Esther Rommel’s one-man business is still in business. The deputy has agreed with the King’s Commissioner that she will continue her case. She reports her income to the Ministry of the Interior. The information on the website has since been adjusted.’

Martijn van Gruithuijsen (VVD – North Brabant)

Member of the Supervisory Board of the Circular Biobased Delta Foundation

‘The file ended up between two stools in 2021 when the portfolio was handed over to Deputy Spierings. Gruithuijsen was then removed from this position, but that has not changed in terms of the articles of association. This function has now been mentioned on the site.’

Lia Roefs (PvdA – Limburg)

Vice-chairman of the Federal Partnership Land van Cuijk

‘Position is still listed in the Chamber of Commerce by mistake. Has not been exercised since 2013. This will be rectified.’

Avine Fokkens Cellar (VVD – Friesland)

Board member of the Stichting Waterrecreatie Nederland

‘Deputy Fokkens-Kelder was given this additional position quite recently. According to the information I can find now, that was shortly before the summer holidays. We will adjust the information on the site this week.’

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