“Living like a royal on public funds”, is the accusation levelled at Francois de Rugy, the French vitality and surroundings minister, after it was revealed he spent public cash on lavish dinners and furnishings.
Everybody must calm down after a tough day within the workplace. Why not take pleasure in slightly champagne and lobster dinner with some buddies? When the gilt furnishings seems to be rather less golden and the chandeliers are getting rather less luminous, who wouldn’t need to do some house refurbishment? Better of all, get the taxpayer to foot the invoice.
Francois de Rugy, former President of the Nationwide Meeting and at present Minister for Power and Setting, is the most recent French politician to get embroiled in a corruption scandal.
In an investigative article printed on July 10, left-leaning web site Mediapart describes de Rugy and his spouse, the journalist Severine Servat-de Rugy, as “living like a royal on public funds” and alluring buddies to “sumptuous receptions” within the Hôtel de Lassay, the official residence of the President of the Meeting.
His defence: he introduced in elevated transparency and improved bookkeeping whereas President of Nationwide Meeting. Would not appear like there is a smoking gun right here that might require François de Rugy to step down however that is all concerning the optics…
James Creedon (@JamesCreedonF24) July 11, 2019
Mediapart claimed there have been greater than ten dinners of this type, held between October 2017 and June 2018. In line with the information web site, workers served bottles of pricy wines taken from Parliament’s cellars to company who have been “mainly friends” of the couple.
There have been even images displaying Servat-de Rugy in entrance of jaw-droppingly costly bottles of wine, to not point out the never-ending line of lobster platters.
After its publication, this story was shortly picked up by different media retailers. De Rugy quickly tried to get forward of the scandal and went on France Inter radio that exact same day.
‘Grotesque’ smear marketing campaign
In a misjudged determination, de Rugy selected to brazen it out, saying that the article was nothing greater than a smear marketing campaign, calling it “grotesque”.
In line with him, these receptions have been justified bills, a part of his working life, and that they allowed him to satisfy representatives from completely different sectors of life, “some of whom we knew, others we did not,” he mentioned.
He acknowledged that his spouse had participated in organising the dinners and choosing the company, however he refused to simply accept that that they had finished something incorrect. “We have nothing to reproach ourselves for, neither she nor I,” he mentioned.
He additionally responded extra extensively on Fb on July 10. However his tone remained determinedly defensive, insisting that he had finished nothing incorrect.
Poor de Rugy. Somebody wanted to inform him that if you end up in a gap, put down the shovel. Certainly, de Rugy’s response served solely to extend the media consideration across the scandal.
Gasoline was added to the fireplace on Wednesday night, when Mediapart printed new data, this time concerning the director of de Rugy’s cupboard, Nicole Klein. In line with the location, Klein had held on to a council flat (social housing) in Paris since 2001. She even stored it from 2006 to 2018 when she now not lived within the capital. Her response? She had forgotten she had an condo within the French capital.
De Rugy immediately demanded that she resign from her place and he or she reluctantly complied, saying “it is Francois de Rugy who expressly wishes me to leave.”
On July 11, Mediapart printed a follow-up article, revealing that after de Rugy and his spouse moved into his official ministerial condo over €63,000 was spent to have it extravagantly refurbished. This text was crammed with much more damning images.
The overall value included a model new dressing room for a considerably exorbitant €17,000. Guess who footed the invoice? Sure, Mr and Mrs Taxpayer.
When requested concerning the costly format of a dressing room by Mediapart, Servat-de Rugy didn’t have a direct reply. “I don’t know what to say to you. It’s not really a dressing room, it is just wardrobes. And when we arrived, there were none, nothing. I don’t know what to tell you,” she concluded.
It was revealed that not solely was the work predominantly ornamental slightly than important upkeep, however in addition they didn’t selected the most affordable suppliers to hold them out. For the carpentry work (together with the dressing room), the most costly of the 4 candidates was chosen.
The minister’s workplace justified the price of the work saying that they had to make use of “qualified craftsmen” resulting from “the particular character of the building” that the condo is in, an 18th century constructing within the 17th district of Paris.
Authorities spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye mentioned on Wednesday that Nicolas Hulot’s successor “obviously” was nonetheless trusted by Macron and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe. Nonetheless, de Rugy was summoned for a gathering with Philippe on Thursday afternoon.
A inexperienced activist who rose to the highest
De Rugy’s glittering profession has by no means confronted such a dangerous scandal.
He initially turned the vitality and surroundings minister when he changed Hulot, who left the publish considerably abruptly.
Hulot introduced his resignation on dwell radio on August 28 2018, taking even President Emmanuel Macron abruptly. Former TV presenter and inexperienced activist Hulot mentioned he needed to give up after a collection of disappointments in his makes an attempt to handle local weather change and different environmental threats.
De Rugy was appointed his alternative simply weeks later in September, shifting upwards and onwards from President of the Nationwide Meeting, a publish he had held since June 2017.
De Rugy, 44, is a long-time politician and environmentalist. First elected to parliament in 2007 with the European Greens, he give up the social gathering in 2015, criticizing its “leftist drift” beneath the presidency of François Hollande. He based his personal inexperienced social gathering in the identical 12 months.
He joined Macron’s La République En Marche social gathering in 2016.
When he took up the place within the Nationwide Meeting, de Rugy mentioned that he, “wanted the Assembly to be open and transparent. We often reproach male and female politicians for being cut off, living only in their political world in a kind of bubble”.
De Rugy could now want he might return to the safety of that bubble.