Problems just won’t go away for ‘Luxury Lars’
The embattled opposition leader, Lars Løkke Rasmussen (V), can’t seem to dig himself out of the hole he has been in since it was revealed that he had spent close to 800,000 kroner on first-class tickets while head of the Global Green Growth Initiative (GGGI), a taxpayer-funded climate organisation.
New developments in the case find the former prime minister being accused of not telling the truth while apologising at a press conference on October 20 when he said that he had not received any payment from GGGI in 2012.
“Just to be clear, I have not received any kind of fee or allowance or anything else from GGGI in 2012,” Rasmussen said at the press conference.
Forgot about travel expenses
Berlingske newspaper went through the documentation of his travel expenses and revealed over the weekend that Rasmussen had in fact received 8,784.50 kroner from GGGI in daily expense allowances in 2012 in connection with his business trips as chairman of GGGI.
That information was confirmed by a GGGI spokesperson, Mike Sullivan, who informed Berlingske that Rasmussen had indeed received allowance payments in 2012 in accordance with GGGI protocol.
This forced Rasmussen to once again explain himself, and he maintained that his remarks about not receiving anything from GGGI in 2012 were based on his best recollection.
“When I held that press conference and showed 206 pages of documentation, it was on my own initiative in order to be completely open about it, so it’s not like I’ve hidden something under my chair,” Rasmussen told DR Nyheder.
Taxes not paid
Another problem for Rasmussen is that he hasn’t paid taxes on the per diem income.
The total 8,784.50 kroner in daily expense allowances given to Rasmussen by GGGI in 2012 was spread out over a number of days, so he received, on average, 675 kroner per day. But according to the tax authorities, the maximum amount of daily expense allowances that one can receive without a tax penalty is 455 kroner.
"According to my accountant, Deloitte, I paid too much in tax in 2012 – even with my expense allowances factored in – so we are working on sorting that out now,” Rasmussen told DR Nyheder.
But Rasmussen’s latest round of excuses doesn’t sit well with Pernille Rosenkrantz-Theil, a spokesperson for Socialdemokraterne.
”You have to be careful or you may become dizzy and disorientated by all these continuously changing explanations,” Rosenkrantz-Theil told DR Nyheder.
Aside from his expense allowances, there is also confusion surrounding who paid for Rasmussen’s daughter’s hotel stay during one of his GGGI trips to Rio de Janeiro in June 2012.
Venstre has reportedly tried to keep the issue under wraps, but there are indications that the party coffers, and therefore Venstre party members, covered the costs of his daughter’s two-day stay in the Brazilian capital even though she was not there on party business.
That revelation comes in the wake of documentation from GGGI that showed that the organisation initially paid 27,000 kroner for her airplane ticket to Rio. Rasmussen said he had tried to repay his daughter’s ticket before, but a miscommunication prevented the payment from being made.
Brutalised in the polls
The entire scandal has had a drastic effect on Venstre and Rasmussen’s popularity in the polls and with the local elections coming up in two weeks, the timing has been impeccable for the opposition, particularly Socialdemokraterne.
While Venstre has dropped 2.4 percent in the polls to 26.7 percent since September, according to Altinget.dk, Socialdemokraterne gained three percent and are now up to 21.6 percent.
Rasmussen has taken a personal beating in the polls as well. An Epinion survey from last week showed that just 30 percent of the population had a positive opinion about Rasmussen, down from 60 percent a year ago.