Here is a rough and ready transcript of the ‘Polish Watergate’ tapes.
Renata Beger is in the hotel where members of parliament stay when they are in town. Opposite her is Adam Lipinski, vice chairman of the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS). This is the first of three days of meetings.
AL. – So are you with the other group of five [the breakaway group of lawmakers who broke from Samoobrona and want to remain in the coalition]?
RB – I am talking about myself.
AL – So it means that the group of five people, that means six. You would like to join PiS and they will go to that [parliamentary] club….or maybe they are creating another group…..so it’s good…what are your expectations?
RB – Mmm…as I said...
AL – Meaning the Secretary of State for Agriculture, yeah?
RB – Yeah, immediately
AL – You know, its no problem at all….because we have lots of vacancies…lots….so no problem. And the other people…?
RB - They…
AL - I prefer if they didn’t push it…the Secretary of State…
RB – No, no…they would be speaking for themselves.
AL – Aha…
RB – And I am sure, 100%, about three of them…the other two are, maybe…
AL – You know, there are different options…some people just want to be re-elected…so we have some possibilities with them …for example, you can come to a deal…if anyone wanted to…with [Roman] Giertych [leader of coalition member, far right LPR]. Giertych has some places with blank spots [on his electoral lists for the local elections coming up in November]…if you match them up, some can join LPR. Giertych really wants to, let’s say, puff himself up…and there maybe is a guarantee of re-election with LPR. We can talk about PiS as well, you have a wide area for maneuver here.
Film is edited
RB – Let’s talk about me first
AL – Your proposition is the Secretary of State for agriculture and joining PiS. One talk to the president [of the party Jaroslaw Kaczynski], sincerely speaking…
RB – Yeah but I was talking about much more…
AL – Meaning?
RB – About my court case [about making up sponsorship signatures before standing as an MP].
AL – And how do you imagine solving this?
RB – That’s your problem, not mine. I told Wojciech [the other PiS negotiator].
AL – There is no point in cheating you. I would do it this way: you should meet an expert on that…you explain what you mean and that person will explain how it will go. If there is something…you know, I don’t know about this, he, will tell you and you take the decision. If there are some things going on then you can’t stop them.
RB – No, you can’t.
AL – I don’t know, but if you like I will find out and tell you.
RB – We have talked about the parliamentary club, position, the top place on the list in my region.
AL – The Pila region?
RB – Yeah, Pila. Mr Kraczkowski was there now [sic].
AL – I get it. I’ll make notes…[starts making notes of what she is demanding, like writing a shopping list]…
RB – And of course, jobs for my people. Because part of my people are coming with me. The local elections. They were already mentioned on the list. I am interested in two high places.
AL – Not so fast…[tries to keep up with what she is saying with his pen]
RB – Yeah.
AL – How do you mean?
BR =- Two high places. One I can give to the name of someone called Beger. [goes through list she has written out before hand so as not to forget something].
AL – OK, so…
BR – And I have underlined, I want this from you in writing. I said to Wojciech and others who contacted me that I want it signed.
AL – Mmm, you know, I am not sure if that’s possible. We can…make a deal.
RB – I want the signature of the PM [Jarosalw Kaczynski]. He is the one who has the authority.
AL – But you know, we can make a deal, because…
RB – We are playing for high stakes.
AL – And you know, I think that the PM, he can guarantee the nomination for secretary of state. You know, I mean…we can come to a verbal agreement that you will be secretary of state. You can believe me, or not. But let’s assume that you believe me. Secretary of state is no problem.
RB – This is straight talking.
AL – The top of the Pila list, we can come to a deal. You can have PiS’s declaration that we guarantee you the local government parliament. A declaration by the party’s chairman or by the chief of the zarzad glowny [?],…somehow signed by [Kaczysnki]. The other things … of course not.
September 25 Lipinski, who sounded very confident of what he was saying in the meeting before, suddenly starts to get less so. Up until now the negotiations are what you would expect from the horse trading of coalition politics. But now things take a turn for the worse. It’s here in this session that Lipinski brings up what has been interpreted by most Poles as a bribe.
RB – And what about our agreement?
AL – So, um…first you, must have talked to someone else about your demands?
RB – I talked to Kuchczysnki [head of the PiS MPs in parliament].
AL. – Ah…
RB – He invited me.
AL – I understand… it's OK, this is not an accusation, but I don’t want to be the guilty one, as I promised that…I have spoken to the PM [J Kaczynski]. He has not accepted the position of secretary of state, so far. I’m being straight.
RB – Yeah, we are being straight [actually she is really starting to get the bit between her teeth here and is stringing him along…].
AL – That’s clear. He has not accepted it yet. That way is blocked now, if I can say so. The switch of Samoobrina people, because now its that thing about the Promissory Note [if they leave Samoobrona]. The MPs are just scared.
Some time later...and here comes the bribe...…
AL – I spoke today to Minister Ziobro [Minister of the Interior] and he says that as far as he knows, after talking to lawyers, Lepper can use the … it can take a few months. But he can’t take assets if the MPs react quickly.
It will work this way: he uses the promissory note, MPs protest, the promissory note is blocked. The court case happens and the court case is won. Ziobro says that this case is won.
RB - I have the impression that if there are some MPs who are just waiting for my decision, then you could protect me financially, just in case…and others will follow me..
AL – We were thinking today, if not setting up…Hmm… theoretically you could even the charge parliament this money (over 100,000 dollars each member of parliament].. if Lepper…theoretically it’s possible.
RB – How? In what way?
AL – Well, ummm. parliament….the debt collector can take away until the MPs protest and parliament would provide this money somehow, I don’t know how, I am not a lawyer.
RB – You mean, you would finance it, yeah?
AL – Yeah, because we thought about setting up a fund which would provide the money for these MPs until the case is solved. If, God save us, the debt collector comes in.
September 26, with a different negotiator.
WM – What could harm you is.. for example, you just come in from nowhere and get the position [of minister]…better to wait two or three weeks, otherwise it might seem like a obvious trade off which would bring the [status of the position of minister] down.
RB – Like Sosnierz [who left an opposition party and walked into a company with that party’s connections], for example?
WM – I don’t know, not my area. I don’t give a damn about Sosnierz. It wasn’t good to nominate him now, but so what. You should wait a while. You joined, fact. Because you wanted to, and then we will see. But don’t give up on that. And after two weeks, and it all calms down. Then you can get nominated.
RB – Lipinksi didn’t say so.
WM – No, don’t push it immediately because they will kill us. You know, those who just take, lose. That person loses because he has been corrupted because he went for something. But no, he went for it because he was convinced about it…..