SHARE
COPY LINK

POLITICS

Why a French minister’s Paris apartment led to her quitting the government

A senior member of Emmanuel Macron's government has resigned after being accused of undervaluing her Paris apartment by the French financial transparency watchdog.

Why a French minister's Paris apartment led to her quitting the government
France's Junior Minister for Local Authorities Caroline Cayeux left the government on November 28, 2022 (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

The minister for relations with local authorities, Caroline Cayeux, has resigned after the France’s “high authority for transparency in public life” (HATVP) deemed that she had “undervalued” her assets in an evaluation of her wealth.

After meeting with the Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne and at the approval of President Emmanuel Macron, Cayeux’s resignation was made official on Monday. Her position will be taken over by Dominique Faure, the current Secretary of State for Rural Affairs.

In a statement on Twitter, Cayeux said that she had presented her resignation to the President and Prime Minister on Sunday.

One of Cayeux’s advisers told Le Monde that “She resigned because she was suspected of something false. After experiencing what happened in July, she did not want to go through all that again.”

Wealth declarations

French politicians including ministers and presidential candidates are required to submit information to the HATVP giving a full list of all wealth and assets held by themselves and their spouse, if they are married.

The controversy for Cayeux refers to two properties  – one Paris apartment in a Haussmanian building, 500 square metres in size and located near the Eiffel Tower at the Place de l’Alma, according to Le Courrier Picard. Cayeux shares the property with her sister, though it is 99 percent under her own name, and the sisters inherited it.

The second property, estimated to be worth at least €200,000, is a farm near Beauvais in the greater Paris region where Cayeux reportedly enjoys collecting draft horses, some of which have taken part in the famous “Route du Poisson” (a competitive horse-driving event between Boulogne-sur-Mer and Paris in northern France).

What next?

The HATVP reportedly believes that Cayeuc under-valued both properties on her declaration of wealth, although there is no suggestion that she omitted any other assets.

The watchdog has not made any further statements on the subject, and will not publish any other communications prior to Thursday, when the results of their examination into all ministers’ assets are set be published on the website.

However, Cayeux’s will not be published, as “according to the law, the declarations of a member of the government who has left office can no longer be made public by the High Authority.”

According to Le Courrier Picard, the former minister, a multimillionaire, has been among elected officials who expressed “opposition to the online publication of [ministers’] assets.”

She is also not the first of President Emmanuel Macron’s ministers to run into issues over declared wealth. Environment Minister, Agnès Pannier-Runacher has recently become the subject of a new investigation by the HATVP.

READ MORE: Explained: Why is France’s environment minister facing a probe over shares?

Pannier-Runacher allegedly did not disclose conflicts of interest regarding her children’s shares in a company created by their grandfather as an early-inheritance scheme. 

What next for Cayeaux

Cayeux, 74, was only appointed a minister in the Macron government in the summer of 2022 and at that time more than 100 public officials signed an open letter denouncing her appointment.

This was due to her vocal opposition to same-sex marriage in 2013 and previous statements saying that it would “[go] against nature”.

She made things worse for herself when she tried to defend herself by saying she had good friends among “those people” – a statement that prompted angry denunciations even from her own cabinet colleagues. 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

POLITICS

Rugby tickets, coffee and stickers – French presidential candidates chastised over expenses claims

From coffee runs to rugby tickets and professional photos - France's election financing body has revealed some of the items it has refused to reimburse from the 2022 presidential race.

Rugby tickets, coffee and stickers - French presidential candidates chastised over expenses claims

Spending on the election trail is tightly regulated in France, with maximum campaign spends per candidate as well as a list of acceptable expenses that can be reimbursed.

In France the State pays at least some of the election campaign costs, with the budget calculated according to how many votes the candidate ends up getting. 

READ MORE: 5 things to know about French election campaign financing

On Friday, the government body (la Commission nationale des comptes de campagne et des financements politiques – or CNCCFP) released its findings for the 12 candidates who ran in the April 2022 presidential campaign. 

All of the candidates had their accounts approved, but 11 out of the 12 were refused reimbursement on certain items. Here are some of the items that did not get CNCCFP approval;

Rugby tickets 

Jean Lassalle – the wildcard ‘pro farmer’ candidate who received about three percent of votes cast in the first round of the 2022 election – bought “19 tickets to attend a rugby match” according to the CNCCFP’s findings. The organisation said it would not be reimbursing the tickets and questioned “the electoral nature of the event”. 

The total cost of the tickets was €465 (or €24.50 each).

Too many coffees

Socialist candidate, and current mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo reportedly spent at least €1,600 on coffee for her team during the campaign.

According to the CNCCFP, however, the caffeine needed to keep a presidential campaign running did not qualify under the country’s strict campaign financing rules.

Too many stickers

Hard-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s was told that the 1.2 million stickers that were bought – to the tune of €28,875 – to advertise the campaign would not be reimbursed. Mélenchon justified the purchasing of the stickers – saying that in the vast majority of cases they were used to build up visibility for campaign events, but CNCCFP ruled that “such a large number” was not justified. 

Mélenchon was not the only one to get in trouble for his signage. Extreme-right candidate Éric Zemmour was accused of having put up over 10,000 posters outside official places reserved for signage. The same went for the far-right’s Marine Le Pen, who decided to appeal the CNCCFP’s decision not to reimburse €300,000 spent on putting posters of her face with the phrase “M la France” on 12 campaign buses.

Poster pictures

Emmanuel Macron – who won re-election in 2022 – will not be reimbursed for the €30,000 spent on a professional photographer Soazig de la Moissonière, who works as his official photographer and took the picture for his campaign poster. 

The CNCCFP said that Macron’s team had “not sufficiently justified” the expenditure.

Expensive Airbnbs

Green party member Yannick Jadot reportedly spent €6,048 on Airbnbs in the city of Paris for some of his campaign employees – an expense that the CNCCFP said that public funds would not cover.

Translating posters

The campaign finance body also refused to reimburse the Mélenchon campaign’s decision to translate its programme into several foreign languages at a cost of €5,398.

The CNCCFP said that they did not consider the translations to be “an expense specifically intended to obtain votes” in a French election.

Best and worst in class

The extreme-right pundit Zemmour had the largest amount of money not reimbursed. Zemmour created a campaign video that used film clips and historic news footage without permission and also appeared on CNews without declaring his candidacy – because of these two offences, CNCCFP has reduced his reimbursement by €200,000. He has been hit with a separate bill of €70,000 after he was found guilty of copyright infringement over the campaign video. 

The star pupil was Nathalie Arthaud, high-school teacher and candidate for the far-left Lutte Ouvriere party, who apparently had “completely clean accounts”. A CNCCFP spokesperson told Le Parisien that if all candidate accounts were like Arthauds’, then “we would be unemployed”.

SHOW COMMENTS