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Lobster-gate: Macron is taking heat over a golden hairdryer

French President Emmanuel Macron is facing criticism because of the lavish spending of his Environment Minister, Francois de Rugy, according to reports in French media.

Published: July 16, 2019, 11:16 am

    Paris

    De Rugy, formally the second most senior member of the Macron administration, and his wife, Severine Servat, a gossip journalist, spent 500 euros of taxpayers’ money on a hairdryer coated with gold leaf.

    They wasted large sums of money on lavish entertainment, where giant lobsters and $500 bottles of wine were served. Other frivolous expenses include a weekend apartment and 800 euros for an exercise bike, according to reports in the French media.

    De Rugy has been denying any wrongdoing, claiming he is the victim of a “grotesque” smear campaign. In a TV interview he even declared himself “furious with all these lies”.

    Macron is standing by his disgraced Minister, but the revelations will be new fodder for the struggling Yellow Vest protesters.

    In an interview in the French weekly Journal du Dimanche, on July 14, the Minister of Ecological Transition denounced the revelations by Mediapart about his lavish lifestyle.

    In the columns of the JDD , François de Rugy declared his resolve: “The challenge is to stay put when they want to demolish you.” The Minister of Ecological Transition went even further, saying that “there is no one who pulls the strings, but a whole lot of people who are taking revenge”. About Mediapart, he said that the site supports the “fantasy of the decapitators”.

    Séverine Sevrat, the wife of François de Rugy, was not present at his side during the parade of 14-July at the Champs-Elysées, in Paris. Interviewed by Paris Match, she explained her absence. Also known as “Lady Gala”, as the journalist is called, she said: “I will not go in the official stand of July 14. I do not want to bother my husband.”

    The couple was also called out by French daily Le Parisien for having notably organised sumptuous dinners and having done major work in their private apartment at the expense of the taxpayer – which the Minister has formally denied.

    This work was carried out in the Roquelaure hotel, in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, occupied by the Rugy couple, between the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019. This included painting, carpeting, bathrooms, and to install … a very expensive dressing room.

    The photos from before the work was done, do not show the apartment in a bad state. The couple had claimed that the apartment had been “dilapdated”.

    After the revelations of waste at the expense of the National Assembly when he was the president, De Rugy said over the weekend he was preparing a text of support prepared by his relatives. But plunged into the turmoil of the viral “lobster gate”, BFMTV reportsed on July 15, that the text “will remain a dead letter”.

    According to the news channel, the document had been drafted by the minister’s relatives before being discarded by the presidential majority. A LREM deputy told BFMTV: “It flopped, there were less than 40 signatories in the group.”

    In an attempt to defend “the honour of a man” as well as “a certain conception of democracy”, the text immediately attacked the “deluge of attacks” on the minister. “We know the man, we worked with him, and we do not recognize him in the portrait that some are trying to paint today,” the authors of the text noted.

    The office of the Minister however said the Minister himself had decided to stop the publication of the letter, because “this would rather fuel the controversy”.

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