Fillon to Stay in Race If French Start Probe, Le Figaro SaysBy
Conservative candidate intially said he could withdraw
“I’m running and I’ll go until victory,” he told Le Figaro
French presidential candidate Francois Fillon, marred by disclosures he put his wife and children on the parliament payroll, will remain in the race even if prosecutors open a formal investigation, he told French daily newspaper Le Figaro in an interview.
“The closer we get to the presidential election’s date, the more scandalous it’d be to deprive the right and the center from a candidate,” Fillon said. “My decision is clear: I am running and I’ll go until victory.” He had initially pledged to withdraw if prosecutors opened a formal criminal investigation.
Officials are studying the issue after weekly newspaper Le Canard Enchaine said Fillon’s wife Penelope earned hundreds of thousands of euros as a parliamentary assistant without actually doing any work. Fillon has sought to quell dissent in his own conservative party since the revelation and his lawyer has called the probe to be dropped.
Eliane Houlette, France’s financial prosecutor, said that on Feb. 15 her office received the first elements gleaned by police officials in their probe into suspected embezzlement.
Republican parliamentarian and candidate Henri Guaino told France Info radio that he opposed Fillon remaining in the race even if he’s under investigation. ”It is a folly for the right,” he said Saturday.
Fillon and independent presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron were neck-and-neck in the first round of the election in a daily Ifop poll released Friday.