- Resignation strips premier of his party's control of capital
- Alleged misuse includes dinner of spaghetti with lobster
Rome’s center-left mayor Ignazio Marino announced his resignation after a scandal over alleged expense account irregularities, stripping Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s party of control of the Italian capital.
“I have done this, having as my polar star the interest of Italy’s capital and of my city,” Marino said in a statement, explaining his decision. He added that his choice was not due to the controversy over the expenses and that by law the resignation “can be withdrawn within twenty days.”
Marino, 60, is a former transplant surgeon elected mayor in June 2013 with Renzi’s Democratic party. The PD party may face a new election in Rome possibly early next year. Marino has denied any wrongdoing.
Rome investigators are looking into allegations that he wrongfully used a credit card given to him by the city council for official business, according to two officials with knowledge of the matter. They spoke on condition of not being identified.
In a previous statement late Wednesday, Marino had said he spent less than 20,000 euros ($22,500) on the card for official business “in the interest of the city.” He added: “This is what I am accused of? Fine, I’ve decided to give the money all back as a present to Rome, out of my own pocket, and to no longer have a city-council credit card in my name."
The Community of Sant’Egidio, a Catholic group based in Rome, denied in a statement that its members had been Marino’s dinner guests. The meal in question, a 263-euro dinner in October 2013, included five servings of spaghetti with lobster and an 80-euro bottle of wine, according to the newspaper Corriere della Sera, which published a copy of the receipt.
The resignation threatens to jeopardize preparations for the arrival of millions of pilgrims in a special Holy Year called by Pope Francis. Some 30 million pilgrims are expected to flock to Rome for the jubilee year, which will run from December 2015 to November 2016 and focus on conversion and repentance.
Marino has been dogged by controversy since last year, including a corruption investigation which led to the arrest of several city councilors. Marino was not accused of wrongdoing in that probe. The staging of a lavish funeral for the boss of a Rome crime family in August while he was on holiday also generated further criticism.
Marino was also the target of more complaints from the opposition for flying to Philadelphia last month to attend an event hosted by Pope Francis without being invited by the Catholic leader.