Early front-runner in the race for President of France, Francois Fillon, has been hit by a scandal involving using government funds to employ his wife and children as “parliamentary aides.” The problem is that no one remembers them doing any work for Fillon’s office. No-show jobs paid with French taxpayer money is not great optics for a politician campaigning on budget cuts and free market reforms.
Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute eviscerates Fillon’s excuse that because taxes are so high, his wife didn’t really make that much money as she had to pay back so much to the government.
Here’s a story that reveals why France is in trouble. The Wall Street Journal reports that a French presidential candidate is arguing people shouldn’t get upset that he used taxpayer money to give his wife a no-show job because a big chunk of the money then went back to the government because of punitive taxes.
François Fillon…apologiz[ed] to the country for having employed his wife and children as parliamentary aides while rejecting accusations the jobs were phony. …Mr. Fillon characterized it as unfair for media reports to state his wife received nearly a million euros over a 15-year period, saying after taxes her monthly average income came to only €3,677 ($3,964). …The privileges traditionally available to France’s ruling class were exposed with rare candor.
So I guess Fillon wants people to think it’s okay to divert funds to family members if they “only” pocket about $48,000 per year after paying taxes.
This is disgusting. At least Fillon should have wasted taxpayer money more elegantly, like France’s current president, who doesn’t have much hair but still gave his stylist big bucks.
What makes Fillon’s story especially amusing is that he is the candidate trying to appeal to French voters who want to reduce the role of the state.
Fillon has maintained his innocence and vows to fight on, portraying the investigation as FT reports “as a Socialist conspiracy.”
In a communications offensive, Mr Fillon’s staff printed and distributed more than 3m leaflets over the weekend, entitled “Stop the Manhunt” and depicting the affair as a Socialist conspiracy.
An Ifop survey released on Sunday showed 68 per cent believing that Mr Fillon should drop his presidential bid. Less than one in four believed he was “honest”, from half of them in a previous poll in November shortly after he easily won the centre-right nomination.
But support from core Republican sympathisers has remained strong, with two-thirds wanting Mr Fillon to stay on.
Read more here.