Exit Fillon?

It is not just the Trump government, administration, hangers-on, advisors, friends, former election campaign leaders, supporters and others, which are all under some Russian cloud.

Now there is at least one French politician who has the same kind of cloud hanging over him.

As remarked in a previous post, being investigated for fraud, or for misspending public money,  or for being extremely creative and successful in tax-evasion, or all these issues together: no reason for French candidates to drop out of an election race.

Marine Le Pen, whose current total number of running investigations into her financial doings stands at a mere four, while the EU has cut her salary to recover some of its misspent money as well, remains firmly in the race.

So does François Fillon – but that was before today’s news hit the media. He apparently received a large sum of money to “network on behalf of Russia”. The sum being said to be a mere 50,000 US dollars.

The money was apparently paid to Fillon for arranging a meeting between some Lebanese billionaire and President Vladimir Putin.What might they have wanted to chat about? This remains unclear.

Just in case you too are losing track of the number of scandals and which scandal is linked to which French candidate … Mr Fillon is already under investigation for misspending real public money on fake jobs.

For a long time, he was favorite. Then the scandal about a fake job for his wife hit the headlines. It soon became clear, his wife was not the only family member holding a fake job. Two of the couple’s children also held fake jobs and this is no fake news.

In case you think it is just the candidates in the election campaign totting up fake jobs, getting extremely creative in using other people’s money, evading paying various taxes on a massive scale … Yesterday President Hollande – not free from scandals himself – accepted the resignation of his Ministère de l’ Intérieur. (Sounds nicer than Interior Minister.)

The now ex-minister is under investigation for paying his teenage daughter a salary of 55,000 Euro for a holiday job. But at least Mr Le Roux had the decency to step down and resign, the moment the extremely well-paid holiday job hit the headlines.

When the real news about the fake jobs splashed across the media, Mr Fillon refused to drop out of the election race. Now there is this claim of him taking Russian or Lebanese bribes to fix meetings. Fillon’s spokesperson complains of “being dragged into a soap opera”. Might be an interesting new role for Mr Putin: Phantom of the Opera.

The first big question now is: will Fillon remain on stage, exit left, or exit right?

The next question: will whatever Fillon does, help outsider Emmanuel Macron?


Le Monde: L’Affaire Fillon
UK Guardian: Fillon, Putin, Lebanese billionaire



About Kate

Multilingual arts & culture journalist, blogger, columnist, writer and translator. Contributor to international (news) media. 2014 winning columnist Gentse Schrijversdagen, Gand, Belgium.
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