Fillon presidential campaign in big trouble

François Fillon and his wife Penelope

François Fillon faces a charge of misuse of public funds over wife’s ‘fake’ job

PARIS, Feb. 16, 2007

The presidential candidate had hoped to duck an investigation into alleged misuse of public funds in which he paid his wife Penelope hundreds of thousands of euros as a “fake” parliamentary assistant.

But a special prosecutor said Thursday the investigation won’t be dropped and that Fillon may be officially charged.

If he is charged, it would make his chief opponent, Marine Le Pen, an almost unbeatable favorite to win the presidency.

Fillon, whose popularity has plummeted since the beginning of the investigation last month, has refused to step down despite pressure from within his party.

However, he has repeatedly said he would step aside if he ends up being charged.

Although he admitted it was an error to employ his wife as his parliamentary assistant, for which she was paid an average salary of €3,600 net, he insists he has done nothing illegal, preferring to point the finger at the press for what he called a media lynching.