Middle district mayor Stephan von Dassel (Greens) no longer believes in his political future in office after the SMS affair about the posting of a confidant. He was “aware that my deselection can no longer be prevented,” von Dassel wrote in an internal letter to party members of the Greens in Mitte. He had “damaged the reputation of our party”.
However, von Dassel rejects a resignation, because this would have been “only a confirmation of the public allegations, which are not true”. As long as there is no result in the disciplinary proceedings against him that he has requested from the Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD), “I cannot draw the political conclusions that many of you have demanded for me”.
Von Dassel does not mention in his letter that financial issues are also involved. If he resigned, he would lose all entitlements from his time in the district office, to which he had only belonged as a city councilor since 2009 and as district mayor since 2016. But if the district council votes him out, as not only the Greens and SPD are planning, but also the CDU, FDP and Left, then von Dassel will be well taken care of. This emerges from a response from the Senate Finance Administration to the Tagesspiegel.
By the end of his term of office, for which he was elected until autumn 2026, the 55-year-old is entitled to 71.75 percent of his previous salary. Since he is currently paid 9,994.91 euros as a district mayor at salary level B6, he would receive 7,171 euros a month for four years – a total of just under 344,000 euros. After 2026, von Dassel would receive a pension because he was a member of the district office for more than eight years.
The district assembly wanted to deal with the deselection for the first time on Thursday evening, and a vote should be taken in two weeks. Berlin’s CDU General Secretary Stefan Evers described the deselection as a “golden handshake in the form of high pension claims” for von Dassel. “That would be a scandal,” Evers said. Von Dassel must anticipate his deselection and finally resign. “The green amigo affair has already done far too much damage to the reputation of our city,” said Evers. “You should have pulled the ripcord long ago.”
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Von Dassel is accused of having privately offered money to an applicant for the high post of central control in the district office so that he would withdraw his complaint against the decision in favor of a confidant of the district mayor.
Both the Green faction of the district councilors and the state leadership of the party therefore opposed von Dassel. “As a parliamentary group, we have lost confidence in Stephan,” said the parliamentary group. The decision to privately offer money to an applicant for a job in order to complete the process more quickly is not acceptable. Von Dassel, on the other hand, considers the allegations to be exaggerated, but admits mistakes: “I’m extremely sorry for the trouble I got us Greens in Mitte, but of course also us Greens all over Berlin, into with a careless wording in an SMS.”
Said SMS went to the plaintiff competitor for the position that von Dassel wanted to put his confidant from the Green party executive in Mitte. It was about an offer so that the applicant would withdraw his lawsuit. The district office later restarted the selection process in order not to fail in the administrative court.
Von Dassel continues to deny having made a concrete offer of payment to the plaintiff via SMS. “But nowhere in this SMS was there a specific offer to pay money,” he explains again. Nevertheless, he admits: “Even if I didn’t make a concrete offer to the unsuccessful applicant, let alone made an agreement or even paid money, my message was extremely misleading and should never have been communicated by a district mayor.”
These text messages “not only endangered trust in me as a person and district mayor and in the neutrality of the administration, but also damaged the reputation of our party.” He deeply regrets that. Von Dassel calls it “my stupidity”, but also says: “I can really say with a clear conscience that I only wanted and still want the best for the district and the state of Berlin.”
The plaintiff himself explained in a criminally verifiable manner that during his previous phone call to von Dassel about a payment as part of a public-law settlement, “both sides agreed” that “it was about three months’ salary at salary level A15”. After the district office declared an out-of-court settlement not possible for budgetary reasons, this was the basis for further talks about a private-law agreement.
Von Dassel even referred to the previously “outlined general conditions” in the SMS. For a salary according to A15, there are between 5414 and 6821 euros per month depending on years of service.
Politically, von Dassel blames the CDU and his parliamentary group: “The CDU had been trying to scandalize the selection result from party tactical calculations since December through urgent inquiries and press releases,” says the letter to the party. Unfortunately, the majority of the Greens parliamentary group “given the urgency to requests from the CDU” and approved their motions.
However, the position of the tax service cannot be filled for the time being. The district has now also stopped the newly started selection process. Because of the current press coverage, it no longer seems possible to select the best candidates, the district office wrote in a letter to the applicants. “Rather, it can be assumed that the selection decision to be made will not withstand a judicial review.” It is to be expected that a “court will question the entire selection process through the presentation in the media and overturn the decision due to concerns of bias becomes”.