A Bavarian state cabinet member has said he will return the money his wife earned while employed as his secretary. The announcement came amid a nepotism scandal overshadowing the kickoff of the state's general elections.
Bavaria's culture minister, Ludwig Spaenle (CSU), announced on Friday he would repay the state the 34,000 euros ($44,600) his wife had earned while working part-time as his secretary beginning in 2008. Returning the state money to Bavaria was a "just consequence" of bending the rules, he said.
In 2000, the southern German state banned members of parliament from employing spouses or children. However, contracts begun before that year were deemed permissible, allowing numerous Bavarian politicians to continue the practice legally.
Earlier on Friday, the president of Bavaria's parliament, Barbara Stamm, published a long-awaited list of 79 regional politicians who had employed family members with state money. The majority of names were from the governing Christian Social Union (CSU) party, which is the Bavarian arm of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats.
The center-left opposition, the Social Democratic Party (SPD), had 21 names on the list.
The revelations followed closely after the resignation of the CSU's parliamentary chairman last week. Georg Schmid left his post after coming under scrutiny from the opposition for employing his own wife on a monthly salary of up to 5,500 euros over a 23-year period. Schmid's own monthly salary stood at 24,145 euros at the time of his resignation.
SPD calls for resignations
Of the CSU politicians named on Friday, the SPD's frontrunner in the upcoming state elections called for the resignation of four of the state's cabinet members who had employed their wives for secretarial work. According to initial reports, the respective wives had earned between 500 and 1000 euros per month.
Bavaria was undergoing a "parliamentary crisis" and the revelations of nepotism was not helping the state's reputation, SPD state candidate Christian Ude said.
"It's scandalous when a handful of cabinet members literally view the state as [their] loot," Ude said.
The CSU's incumbent candidate, Premier Horst Seehofer (pictured above), whose nomination on Friday was overshadowed by the scandal, rejected Ude's call for resignations.
"A party like us…doesn't have to put up with defamation from the SPD, which has also been hit by [this scandal,]" said Seehofer, adding that he had no idea why Ude was involving himself in the matter.
The jobs-for-relatives scandal comes on the back of the shock admission last week by Bayern Munich soccer club president Uli Hoeness that he had evaded tax. He had been a Merkel business adviser and had previously railed against tax evasion.
Bavaria's state elections take place on September 15, one week before the national elections.
kms/lw (AFP, dpa)