French Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux was summoned to meet the prime minister on Tuesday over reports he hired his student-age daughters for summer jobs while a member of parliament, an official at Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve’s office said.
The employment of family members by politicians has become a hot-button issues in the French presidential election after conservative candidate Francois Fillon became embroiled in a scandal over his employing of wife and children as assistants.
A report by a satirical TV show Quotidien said on Monday that Le Roux employed his two daughters several times as parliamentary assistants during their school breaks.
“My daughters have worked for me … notably during school holidays, but never on a permanent basis,” Le Roux was quoted as saying by Quotidien.
Le Roux, who was previously and head of the Socialist Party group in the lower house of parliament, was appointed interior minister in December when Cazeneuve left the post to take up the job of prime minister.
The French financial prosecutor’s office, which handles such cases and which opened an inquiry into Fillon, was not immediately available for a comment concerning Le Roux.
Members of the National Assembly, France’s lower house of parliament, are allowed to hire family as assistants and pay them from funds put at the disposal of all lawmakers.
The scandal over Fillon’s hiring of wife Penelope and two of his children has cost his his former place as frontrunner in the polls ahead of a presidential election that takes place in two rounds on April 23 and May 7.
He has fallen from first to third place in the polls since newspaper Le Canard enchaine revealed details on Jan. 25 of hundreds of thousands of euros in payments to wife Penelope and two of his children, Marie and Charles.
Fillon says he has not broken any law and has survived an internal party challenge to remain the presidential candidate of his The Republicans.
He says he is the victim of what he called “a political assassination” and bias in the judiciary, which opened a preliminary inquiry on the heels of the report in Le Canard enchaine and since placed him under official investigation.
His allies suggested double-standards were at play and that the judiciary’s stand on the reports about minister Le Roux would be closely watched for that reason.
“The article concerning Francois Fillon was published on a Wednesday morning and a few hours later, the national financial prosecutor opened a preliminary investigation,” Bruno Retailleau, a Fillon ally, told France 2 TV.
“We will see how this one goes, it will be enlightening.”
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