French Presidential Candidate's 'Biggest Scandal' Just Got Bigger
Francois Fillon allegedly funneled taxpayer money to wife, kids
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 14, 2017 4:46 PM CDT
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French conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon is being accused of paying his wife and children more than $1 million in taxpayer money to work fake government jobs.   (AP Photo/Francois Mori, File)

(Newser) – A right-wing candidate for French president was placed under formal investigation Tuesday—meaning there's "serious or consistent evidence" of wrongdoing—in an unprecedented move, the Guardian reports. Francois Fillon allegedly misused public funds, specifically by paying his wife more than $720,000 over 15 years to be a parliamentary assistant. According to CNN, the former prime minister allegedly did the same for his two children, bringing the total amount of taxpayer money that went to his immediate family to more than $1 million. In France, it's legal to employ family members as parliamentary assistants, but allegations against Fillon claim these were fake jobs for which no work was done.

Fillon, who is currently trailing in third place in the presidential race, claims he's the victim of "political assassination," Reuters reports. He says his wife (who also may or may not have made more than $3,700 a month for a fake job at a literary magazine) did legit work as a parliamentary assistant, keeping track of his schedule and appearing for him at cultural events. Fillon had previously said he would drop out of the presidential race if there was a formal investigation; he now says otherwise. The former presidential front-runner is facing up to 10 years in prison if found guilty. Voting starts in less than six weeks.

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