Magazine article Insight on the News

Whistle-Blower Gives Lesson about Politics and Power. (the Watchers)

Magazine article Insight on the News

Whistle-Blower Gives Lesson about Politics and Power. (the Watchers)

Article excerpt

It's hard to feel sympathy for socialist Edith Cresson, France's former prime minister, recently indicted by a Belgian court on corruption charges dating to her time as a commissioner of the European Union (EU). Cresson, who once famously claimed that one in four Englishmen is gay, now is the central figure in a landmark case in which this pal of the late president Francois Mitterrand (himself a man of famously elastic principles who called her "my little soldier"), is accused of counterfeiting and of personally benefiting from EU contracts.

The charges include that Cresson arranged to have her dentist, a close personal friend, brought on as a well-paid but largely no-show adviser to the EU on HIV/AIDS, a subject about which he knew virtually nothing. If convicted, Cresson faces up to five years in jail.

When the scandal broke in 1999, it was responsible for the collapse of the EU's 20-member executive office, a welter of often patronage-oriented fiefdoms whose reported motto appeared to come right out of Chicago's machine politics: "Where's mine? …

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