French interior minister resigns amid inquiry into hiring teenage daughters
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French Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux resign Tuesday after he was placed under preliminary investigation amid revelations that he hired his two teenage daughters as parliamentary aides with exorbitant salaries, all at the taxpayers’ expense.
It was promptly announced that he will be replaced as interior minister by Socialist Matthias Fekl.
The TMC TV channel reported late on Monday that Le Roux gave his daughters several short-term contracts between 2009 and 2016 for which they earned a total of €55,000 (approximately $59,500).
The girls were still in school when he first hired them, and continued to be on the payroll when they were at university.
Le Roux, who denied any wrongdoing, told TMC that his daughters had worked for him during their summer holidays.
Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, without naming Le Roux or referring to the scandal, said earlier Tuesday at a Paris event that government officials must be "irreproachable".
"Otherwise the authority of the state is weakened," he added.
Le Roux was conspicuously absent from the Paris event, even though he was initially expected to attend.
The interior minister also slipped out of a Senate hearing on Tuesday, dodging reporters, and cancelled two other public appearances.
Not illegal to hire family members
French lawmakers are allowed to hire family members as assistants, as long as they do real work.
Unfortunately, the scandal has drawn comparisons between Le Roux and embattled conservative presidential candidate François Fillon, who has been indicted for the misuse of public funds after putting his wife Penelope and two of their children on the public payroll. They are suspected of holding fake jobs as parliamentary aides for which they were paid around €900,000.
Fillon also insists he did nothing wrong, calling it a "political assassination" and questioning the justice system's impartiality.
The fake jobs scandal, and later revelations about lavish gifts from the rich, have dealt a severe blow to Fillon's campaign.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)