The spokeswoman of the Spanish Popular Party in Madrid, Esperanza Aguirre, has resigned after her closest aid was embroiled in a major corruption scandal.
Esperanza Aguirre has served as Madrid’s regional leader for nine years, besides being a former minister, a senator, regional deputy, and the first woman speaker of the Spanish upper house. In her 35-year long career, Aguirre is an iconic survivor of the ruling Popular Party. She even survived a helicopter crash in 2005 and the 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai.
Her resignation is linked to a string of corruption scandals that has tarnished the ruling Popular Party. Her top aid, Francisco Granados, is now linked to the Gürtel corruption scandal, which entails the exchange of kickbacks for contracts and the operation of a shadow fund that financed political campaigns.
Like Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Aguirre declares herself innocent and surprised with the continuous stream of allegations. On Monday, Aguirre told reporters she felt “betrayed” by Ignacio González and regretted not keeping an eye on him. She also said that if it turned out he was guilty she would be “disappointed.”
Her protégé “graduated” to become the regional PP premier from 2012 to 2015. Last week González was arrested along with 12 high ranking PP members, including staff of Madrid’s regional water utility, Canal de Isabel II.
The regional PP premier is linked to an alleged money laundering operation, which channeled public funds through Madrid’s water company (Canal de Isabel II), to personally enrich members of his administration, while also paying for electoral campaigns.
The operation allegedly entailed bloating the price of assets the water company acquired in Latin America, siphoning the excess amount to offshore businesses in Panama.