‘You’ve got to take it’: How Sodder was forced to make masks

Doubts about the level of masks

Information that Passau can get millions of protective masks in the state Chancellery has arrived via Scheuer. Although inquiries have come in from other companies out there, it appears that showing the house of the former CSU general secretary took priority.

The Ministry of Health and the responsible department at the Ministry of Environment and Consumer Protection examined the mask certificates provided by the Passau businessman – and he had concerns. Therefore, the Ministry of Health initially refused the offer via e-mail: against the background of many fakes on the market, the offer could not be accepted. Based on the attached documents, it is not possible to verify whether the masks are marketable or not.

The head of state presses

Three days later, on March 30, 2020, Chancellor Hermann intervened. On a piece of paper handwritten the request of the President of Passau Corporation and another person “Immediately To call. “Hermann referred to Federal Minister Scheuer and spoke of about ten million masks.” need approval! Faster! Herrmann sent this note as an attachment in an email within the State Chancellery with the subject: ‘BM Scheuer’ and the demand for ‘immediate processing’ at the Procurement Office. PS continues: ‘I mean immediately on the spot.’ ”

The Ministry of Health said there was “great pressure from the state chancellery”. But doubts about the deal persisted. An internal email stated that it was unclear whether the products standard was sufficient. If masks are requested, it may happen that ‘we cannot use the masks’ despite any return guarantee that may have been agreed upon.

Söder’s SMS: “You have to take…”

However, in this case, the Ministry of Health still did not want to conclude a contract – and already wanted to inform the State Chancellery again. But then, according to the Postal Movement, Soder sent an SMS to then-Secretary of State for the Interior Gerhard Eck (CSU), who was temporarily transferred to the Ministry of Health for reinforcements due to the Corona crisis. The prime minister’s clear statement: “You have to take it, Scheuer has to ensure it!”

The Ministry of Health finally came to the conclusion that the offer should be accepted after all. The head of the department in charge wrote: “Then we will probably have to accept the offer, but I don’t know how BM Scheuer wants to ensure that.” A note from the house said the State Chancellery was urging the conclusion of the purchase contract – a security clause with the right to withdraw in case of poor quality masks and a fixed delivery date should be included.

Same day contract

On the same day, March 31, 2020, a purchase contract was signed with Passau. During Scheuer’s acceleration, other service providers only received a comfortable standard answer from the Free State’s Corona Procurement Office, according to the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”.

According to the report, unlike surgical masks, the initially ordered FFP2 masks took weeks to arrive. After the State Bureau of Health and Food Safety (LGL) banned several types of masks in the summer of 2020, Passau gradually acquired replacement masks. Delivery has been postponed until the end of 2020.

Hermann and Scheuer defend the work

The head of state Hermann defended the actions of that time. “At the end of March 2020, there was an absolute emergency for masks in Bavaria and all over Germany, there was an imminent danger,” he told BR. Therefore, every “potentially reputable and affordable source” should be examined as quickly as possible. “The advice from the State Chancellery is no different: stay informed and at the same time keep all options in terms of quality and contractual security.”

Hermann emphasized that every advice, “no matter who”, was followed with the greatest care and attention. There was no preferential treatment. “Any attempt by the opposition to discredit the state government’s efforts to procure essential protective equipment is misleading and wrong.”

In addition, the CSU politician noted that, to be on the safe side, “the fulfillment of the described criteria was specifically included as an obligation of the seller in the concluded purchase contract”, “associated with the corresponding security rights of the free state”. As a result, the contract with Passau was fully fulfilled. Commissions not paid.

Scheuer also defends his commitment. “If such contacts are not transmitted, it means that lazy MPs do not care most about it,” he told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

Schwer: No commissions or stakes

The emails and documents available to BR about the mask deal arranged by Scheuer do not actually give the impression that the politicians involved have enriched themselves personally through the commissions. Scheuer himself refers to this, which “SZ” quotes as follows: “We are not talking about commissions or investments.”

It was different from the operations previously referred to as the Mask Affair: longtime CSU Vice President Alfred Sutter and George Noslin and (thanks to their CSU contacts) PR entrepreneur Andrea Tandler received high commissions for arranging mask deals for agencies Government. The sum in Sauter and Nüßlein was around 1.2 million euros – Tandler and her business partner are said to have received around 48 million euros.

Green: Personal Care Souders

The sharp criticism of Soder, Hermann and Scheuer comes from Green Party MP Florian Siekmann. Seekman says when asked by BR that the three “paid through this mask deal against any professional advice”. The government’s mission was to “build an efficient procurement system for protective masks”. Through their “personal care,” Soder, Hermann and Scheuer, as members of the government, would have undermined this system of procurement. Then complaints and recalls of “junk masks” occupied the administration for months in the midst of the crisis – “although there were more important things to do”.

Green MP leaves no good hair in the field of mask work, which shouldn’t have been at least thanks to Söder’s SMS. Instead of responsible crisis management, it was apparently about a snapshot with the masked pilot on the runway.

FDP: “Problems with Markus Söder’s system”

Marin Hagen, head of the FDP’s parliamentary group, called it “shocking” how quickly Prime Minister Söder can “wipe the side” of justified objections from the responsible authorities with an SMS. “There were reservations about that show, which – as we know today – was also inappropriate, and suddenly it’s no longer playing a role,” Hagen told BR. The FDP politician added: “This shows that we have problems with Marcus Soder’s regime and that the commission of inquiry still has some work to do.”

The head of the SPD’s parliamentary group, Florian von Braun, demanded on Twitter that Söder must now explain why he ignored his experts’ concerns and ordered him to buy “inappropriate Scheuer masks”. “Did he just want chic pictures at the airport or are there more pictures? Ice too thin for him and CSU!”

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