High Crimes and Misdemeanors of the USL Government

Last week, Toni Grebla of the PSD read out the USL’s charges of “grave violations” of the Constitution by President Traian Basescu. I hereby now read out my own 30-count charge of high crimes and misdemeanors committed by the USL-controlled government.

Note: In case the heat has fried your brain, I am deliberately not discussing any alleged (or established) crimes committed by either Basescu, the PDL or any other minority party. That’s the subject for another post. And just because I don’t mention them doesn’t mean I dismiss them.

Furthermore, any past crimes or wrongdoing by the USL or its component parties prior to May 7, 2012 will also not be discussed here. I am writing solely about the felonious acts committed by the USL since the MRU government was brought down and Victor Ponta became Prime Minister.


1) Attempted suspension of judges of the Constitutional Court

After two adverse rulings by the Romanian Constitutional Court (henceforth CCR), the USL, via the Justice Ministry, began proceedings to remove three members of the CCR. After outrage from EU ministers and the Romanian public, the proceedings were canceled. Nonetheless, even the brief attempt to remove a sitting judge of the country’s highest court is a clear violation of Romania’s constitution and a treasonous act.

2) Failure to honor the ICCJ’s ruling

Two members of the USL, Sergiu Andon (PC party) and Florin Paslaru (PSD) were convicted by the the ICCJ (Romania’s highest criminal court) of influence peddling and “incompatibility of office”. As of this writing, the USL government has refused to remove these two sitting members of parliament from their positions. Both of these men subsequently were permitted to vote on the suspension of President Basescu from office.


3) Failure to honor ANI’s ruling – the Victor Alistar case

Victor Alistar was nominated by Victor Ponta for a cabinet level position as “Minister for Governmental Strategy” despite a previous ruling by the ANI (a court which rules on cases of influence peddling, cronyism, etc) that banned him from holding office until after August 2012. Ponta initially withdrew Alistar’s nomination but has since made press statements that he will nominate him again “soon”.

4) Conflict of interest – Ministry of Education

Corina Dumitrescu was nominated for the position of Ministry of Education despite the knowledge that she was the head of a lobbying group (representing private for-pay universities) that currently is a plaintiff in a case against the Ministry of Education.

The only reason she was not confirmed as the Minister of Education was because it was discovered she had flagrantly falsified her CV and had been a co-author of a plagiarized academic work.

5) Conflict of interest – Ministry of Agriculture

Daniel Constantin was nominated and confirmed as the Ministry of Agriculture. This despite the fact that he is over 100,000 Euros in debt to USL Senator Dan Voiculescu, who currently is being sued by the Ministry of Agriculture.

6) Undermining the integrity of the court – Nastase case

After being nominated for the position of Minister of Justice, Titus Corleaten made several public statements undermining the integrity of the ICCJ, saying that the case against Nastase was “political” and had no valid, legal foundation.

Other USL leaders, including current interim President Crin Antonescu, and others have also made similar statements.

7) Interfering in an ongoing criminal proceeding – Nastase case

Ponta nominated Adrian Balaban-Grajdan for the post of director of the ISC, the State Construction Inspectorate, one of the chief plaintiffs in the (then) ongoing criminal case against Nastase. At 5:53 in the morning on the first day of his mandate, Grajdan spoke with Nastase on the telephone. Hours later, Grajdan filed the necessary paperwork to remove ISC as a plaintiff in the case.

Although Grajdan was removed from office the following day it is inconceivable that he was acting without orders from the USL leadership, the prime proof of which is that in his earlier employment as head of the ISC (years before) he had personally been the one to file the necessary paperwork to enter the ISC as a plaintiff in the exact same case against Nastase.

Furthermore, no subsequent director ever re-filed the paperwork to return the ISC as a plaintiff in the Nastase case, meaning that although Grajdan’s tenure was short, his actions were effectively permanent.

8) Interference with a court ruling – Nastase case

After Nastase had been lawfully convicted by the ICCJ, Interior Ministry Ioan Rus personally interfered with the case on several occasions.

By his own admission to the press, Interior Minister Rus personally called Nastase and offered him several choices on how he wanted to be arrested. The ICCJ’s ruling clearly stated that it had ordered the police (which are subordinate to the Interior Ministry) to seize and transport Nastase to jail within 24 hours of the verdict.

By his own admission to the press, Interior Minister Rus stated that he knew Nastase was suicidal and had made clear statements of intent to harm himself. Interior Minister Rus also knew that Nastase was in possession of several firearms and yet did nothing.

By his own admission to the press, Interior Minister Rus stated that he spoke to Nastase several hours before the police were sent to arrest him (Nastase). If Nastase had actually committed suicide, Rus would be at least partially culpable for both allowing Nastase access to firearms as well as failing to dispatch officers in a timely manner to Nastase’s residence.

By his own admission to the press in numerous statements, Interior Minister Rus has failed to clarify how many shots were fired, what type of gun was used, what caliber of ammunition was used or other pertinent information (such as the official police report) about Nastase’s alleged suicide attempt. Yet conversely, the official police statements of Nastase’s wife and oldest son were leaked to the press (both of them favorable to Nastase/USL’s position) without punishment or the threat of legal action by either the Interior Ministry or any law enforcement agency.

9) Conduct unbecoming a Prime Minister – the Nastase case

After Nastase had been transported to a hospital, Prime Minister Victor Ponta made a personal visit to check on the welfare of a convicted criminal. This clear act of partisanship brought disrepute to the office of Prime Minister and was directly disrespectful of the court’s decision.

10) Conduct unbecoming a Minister – Ioan Mang

After numerous (as many as 10) examples of plagiarism were published in the media, Ioan Mang, the Minister of Education, resigned from his position. However no wrongdoing or culpability was ever admitted, not from Mang and not from Ponta for appointing him without doing the necessary background investigation on his history.

Instead, Mang, Ponta and other USL leaders have continually blamed the media and their political enemies for discussing the topic in the first place. Furthermore, an official case by the Ethics Review Council of the Education Ministry to rule on Mang’s (alleged) plagiarism has never not been filed as of this writing.

11) Conduct unbecoming a Minister – Mircea Diaconu

After allegedly spitting on a journalist and after being convicted by the ANI for influence peddling (for actions taken years ago involving his wife), Mircea Diaconu resigned from the position as Minister of Culture. However no wrongdoing or culpability was ever admitted, not from Diaconu and not from Ponta for appointing him without doing the necessary background information on his history.

12) Failure to respect the CCR’s verdict – the June 28 EU Council meeting

From the beginning of his premiership, Victor Ponta and other USL leaders stated that the Romanian Constitution provided that the Prime Minister of Romania should represent the country at European Council meetings. The matter was brought before the CCR on June 27 and the CCR ruled that it was actually the President who was the legal designee to represent the country at European Council meetings.

Despite this ruling, Ponta boarded a plane early the next morning and presented himself at the EU Council summit as the legitimate legal representative of Romania, a clear violation of the CCR’s ruling and therefore a unequivocal violation of the Constitution.

13) Thwarting the CCR’s verdict – the June 28 EU Council meeting

Although the CCR announced their ruling on June 27 (in the above case in #12 of this indictment), their verdict could only become binding once it was published in the Monitorul Oficial (MO). Control of the MO was subsequently seized by the USL-led Parliament (see #14 below) and to this date the CCR’s verdict has not been published, thereby using a technicality to stymie undesired court rulings.

14) Criminal seizure of power – the Monitorul Oficial situation

All legislation, laws, court rulings and other government decrees do not become lawful until they are published in the MO (the official gazette). On July 1 the USL-government used an “emergency ordinance” to seize direct control of the MO, controlling what it did not publish (see #13 above) and what it did publish (see #15 below).

15) Abuse of the Monitorul Oficial – the Dan Voiculescu case

Facing an imminent verdict in his ongoing criminal trial, USL Senator Dan Voiculescu retired from office. By doing so, his case would mandatorily have to be transferred from the ICCJ to a lower court, thus vastly delaying a verdict and also possibly mitigating his potential future sentence.

Because of the urgency to switch court jurisdiction, the USL used its new control of the MO to publish Voiculescu’s resignation immediately after it was announced.

16) Abuse of parliamentary power – the ICR case

A state-run agency, whose head is nominated by the President, is the Romanian Cultural Institute (ICR). The USL-parliament used an emergency decree to seize control of the ICR, ostensibly because there had been a gross misuse of its funds. So far there has been nothing published to sustain these allegations of misuse of public funds.

This seizure of the ICR by emergency decree brought global backlash by newspapers, academics, intellectuals and heads of state (including the King of Norway) against the USL government, bringing Romania and its public image into disrepute.

17) Abuse of parliamentary power – replacing the Avocatul Poporului

There is an independent government office called Avocatul Poporului or ombudsman (literally “The People’s Advocate”) which has legal standing to challenge government rules, decrees and ordinances if it is determined that they are not in the interest of the people.

Using parliamentary maneuvers, the USL replaced the Avocatul Poporului with a former PSD politician, this preventing opposition parties from contesting future parliamentary actions.

18) Insulting and besmirching Romania’s image – the Ponta plagiarism case

Despite numerous publications of unequivocal evidence showing that Prime Minister Ponta 1) plagiarized large swathes of his doctoral dissertation 2) plagiarized a 2010 book that he co-authored and 3) deliberately falsified his CV, claiming he had earned a master’s degree (repudiated by the university itself), he has refused to resign.

Furthermore, a competent authority (CNATDCU) which is tasked solely to render verdicts on cases of plagiarism and academic ethics, also determined that Ponta had plagiarized.

Despite bringing Romania and the Romanian people into disrepute, making them the butt of jokes and ridicule on a global level and despite widespread criticism both domestically as well as internationally, Ponta has refused to resign from the office. Even if the accusations of plagiarism were completely untrue, the fact that he has sullied the public image of Romania and its thousands of university students and graduates (many of whom are studying abroad) should be reason enough to resign.

Instead, Ponta has said that charges of plagiarism are false, that they only exist because of his political adversaries, and that only an ethics council designated by his appointed Minister of Education is competent to officially rule on any act of plagiarism.

This comes after interim Education Minister Liviu Pop issued an emergency decree to increase CNATCDU’s membership from 20 to 45 people on the same day that they ruled on Ponta’s dissertation, with the future 25 members to be designated. This was clearly designed to “stack” the committee with sympathetic members who may be asked to rule on any future case.

19) Disrespecting the will of the people – Sorin Frunzaverde, et al

The only reason the USL is even power is because they convinced several members of the opposition PDL party to vote with them on the “no confidence” measure that brought down the MRU government that led to Ponta becoming PM. Not only did these PDL members vote with the USL but they actually switched parties and became members of component USL parties (primarily PDL).

This is a grave violation of the will of the voting public, who had previously elected these politicians to sustain their party’s platform and political positions.

20) Disrespecting the will of the people – suspending the president by secret ballot

Although it is perfectly legal and not a new procedure, the vote to suspend President Basescu on July 6 was conducted by secret ballot (dropping a ball in an urn).

This is a grave act of disrespect towards the people of Romania, first by denying them knowledge of how their elected representative had voted and secondly by thwarting the people’s vote to elect Traian Basescu in 2009.

If the president had indeed committed grave crimes against the Constitution and thereby the people of Romania, the people should have the right to know who was voting to overturn the 5-year presidential mandate that they had given to Basescu.

21) Misuse of the public’s money – 95 million lei for the referendum

The government has calculated that it will cost 95 million lei (approx 21 million euros) to conduct a referendum on July 29 solely to determine whether the public agrees with the USL government that President Basescu should be removed from office.

Suspending the president was a clear act of political revenge and is a direct negation of the will of the people, previously having elected the president to a 5-year term. Now the public is being forced to pay for yet another vote (the 2007 referendum cost 60 million lei for nothing) on whether or not Basescu should be the president of the country.

22) Gravely damaging Romania’s public image and position in the world – the coup d’etat

Whether or not it is ever “formally” declared as a coup attempt or not, or whether it is a legal seizure of power, or whether it is simply “ordinary politics”, the actions of the government of the USL have led to widespread condemnation, including possibly having Romania’s voting rights in the EU suspended.

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel – “The USL’s violations of the rule of law in Romania is unacceptable”
  • German parliamentarian, head of European Affairs – “I am going to ask Jose Manuel Barroso to suspend Romania’s voting rights at the European Council”
  • Vivian Reding, Justice Commissioner of the EU – “I am very concerned about the USL’s attack on the independence of the CCR”
  • Mark Gitenstein, American Ambassador to Romania – “Any violations or manipulations of the Constitution would have a serious effect on the way Romania is seen by the international community”
  • Martin Harris, British Ambassador to Romania – “It is important for Romanian politicians to respect the rule of law during this period of uncertainty”
  • Giulio Terzi, Italy’s Foreign Minister, “We are closely watching developments in Romania and we ask for that its leaders conform to constitutional procedure”
  • Joseph Daul, member of the European Parliament – “We believe that these violations of the laws and the Constitution may be considered a coup d’etat”
  • Herman von Rompuy, president of the European Council – “I am very concerned about recent developments in Romania concerning the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary”.
  • Guido Westerwelle, German Foreign Minister – “I am very concerned about what is going on in Romania”
  • Uri Rosenthal, Dutch Foreign Minister – “It is important that Romania respect the rule of law and the Constitution”
  • Thorbjorn Jagland, secretary general of the EU Council – on July 7 he formally requested a ruling by the Venice Commission on whether recent actions (including suspension of Basescu) was possibly a violation of the democratic standards of the EU (which must be adhered to by all members).
  • U.S. State Department – “We are very concerned about recent developments in Romania”

And many, many more too numerous to list.

Ponta’s reaction so far has been “well Merkel doesn’t have the right to vote in Romania” (exact quote) and has completely otherwise refused to apologize or give a detailed explanation to these fellow EU leaders about the USL’s actions. Ponta however has been summoned to Brussels on Thursday of this week where he will be forced to give some kind of explanation to EU Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso.

23) Intimidating the press – Ponta on the leu

Immediately after his premiership began, the leu (Romania’s currency) began to sharply decline against both the Euro and the dollar.

After multiple media outlets commented on this (including the leu reaching record lows), Ponta made public statements threatening the media, warning them that they should not report on the currency’s rapid devaluation.

24) Silencing freedom of speech – Ponta in Iasi

In the run-up to the June 10 local elections, Prime Minister Ponta was in Iasi, stumping for PSD candidates and to get a blessing from the sympathic bishop of Iasi. During his public appearances, a group of 6 people booed Ponta.

The mayor fined each of these people 700 lei for “disturbing the peace” without objection by PM Ponta. Just a month earlier, the USL had several hundred protestors boo at then-PM MRU and were never fined for their actions.

25) Grave failure to protect Romania’s financial stability

Not only has the leu continued to fall to ever new record lows against both the Euro and dollar but Romania’s credit rating has worsened, its CDS risk has increased by more than 12%, it is unable to sell even half of its planned T-bills at auction and it has been forced to completely withdraw all short-term government bonds from the market due to hugely volatile price swings and a universal perception of unacceptable risk on behalf of institutional investors.

Quite simply put, foreign investors perceive the Ponta government as putting an unacceptably high level of risk on all government securities, severely jeopardizing Romania’s ability to borrow money in the short-term. If this trend is not reversed immediately, it could have fatal effects on Romania’s long term financial solvency.

At least one newspaper (Ziarul Financiar) calculated that the current political instability of the USL government is costing Romania over 1$ million euros per day.

In the IMF’s last position paper on Romania, one of the biggest complaints was the large number of unresolved debts held by banks. As many loans in Romania (including mortgages) are denominated in euros, any depreciation in the leu can greatly reduce people’s abilities to service (pay back) these loans, leading to an increasing number of unresolved debts and bankruptcies.

26) Failure to respect a court decision – the Nastase case

After Crin Antonescu became interim president of Romania following Basescu’s supension, he appeared on a television news program and stated that he would not consider pardoning Nastase “until after the referendum is held”, implying that he may indeed pardon Nastase if Basescu is removed from office permanently.

27) Paying for protestors – pro-USL rallies

According to a hidden camera report by Realitatea, several pro-USL “protestors” in the streets last week, their presence to try and counteract spontaneous and organic protestors (some anti-USL, some anti-all politicians) admitted that they had been paid by the USL for their participation.

Furthermore, they stated that they had found out about these “jobs” via social media operated by the USL.

28) Denying political opponents fair representation – the TVR case

After multiple problems, including having their bank accounts frozen, the USL-controlled parliament stepped in to take control of TVR, the Romanian state-owned public television network.

In their reorganization of TVR’s board of directors, all major parties in the parliament received a number of seats with the exception of PDL (the USL’s political opponents). This is in direct violation of the laws about TVR, which mandate that the board of directors be apportioned by the individual parties’ representation in parliament.

As TVR is the mass media and the board ensures the impartiality of the news and other views broadcast over its numerous channels, this was a clear attempt to stifle political opponents from having access to the public.

29) Manipulating the referendum – President Basescu’s suspension

By using yet another “emergency decree”, the USL-led parliament changed the law on how the public will vote via referendum on whether the president should be removed from office.

Under the previous law, a majority of eligible voters had to sustain the parliament’s suspension to remove the president permanently from office. Under the new “emergency decree”, only a majority of the votes cast must sustain the parliament’s suspension to remove the president from office.

Should nationwide turnout be less than 50% (as is forecast), this means that less than half of the electorate will decide the legitimacy of the parliament’s decision. F

30) Jiggering the statistics – President Basescu’s suspension

Although Romania conducted a nationwide census in 2011, the final results have yet to be published. On July 5, 2012 Victor Ponta removed two vice presidents of the INS (in charge of the census data) and replaced them with political allies in an attempt to manipulate voter registration rolls in the USL’s favor.


35 thoughts on “High Crimes and Misdemeanors of the USL Government

  1. Well I’m way out on left-field regarding the details and facts of this discussion and topic, but I want to make a comment … and a response to this “he sees a country which he obviously loves continually shooting itself in the foot by electing a bunch of corrupt scumbags who are only interested in their own little power games and who don’t give a damn about the ordinary people who are struggling to make a living or (God forbid) improve the image of their country with the outside world?”
    I have been speaking with several everyday-common-type of people in Romania for several months now, and learning to love and appreciate much about their world and lives, and there are several common themes they present in conversation, which I find to be poorly reflecting on the government and officialdom (so-called) leadership of Romania … corruption, and lack of support for local young people to go onto further education and career development. Let alone the incredibly low-average income, and the high-cost of education and rental accommodation, the lack of tenancy protection and the no-protection of too many unskilled workers entitlements fair pay/wages—for a fair day’s work … maybe explains why app. 40,000 young adults are vacating their homeland annually to seek work further afield, or cannot enter a course in University without access to $25000 dollars (average 5yr medical) because of the emphasis of “outsiders” attending Romanian institutions as “private-funded” priority over local citizens well-being and welfare and opportunity to improve career options.

    With just this as examples of the tip-of-the-iceberg, it is not surprising that Romania, (and surrounding countries), are having a “bad-time” gaining credibility and respectability in the eyes of many others looking-in … now I suppose I’ll be blasted for weighing-in to this discussion, but I wanted an opportunity to say a few things “on behalf” of the “friends” I have come to know there, and I wanted to show support and interest in what “Sam” is doing here, or attempting to do by raising genuine concern and the topics that need to be aired … though I think he runs a grave-risk of threats or jeopardising personal safety for being so outspoken and public…

    Thanks for giving me the Net-space to add my tuppence-worth here ;)


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