Romania's Youth and Sports minister Monica Iacob-Ridzi announced on Tuesday that she has resigned. Minister Ridzi has been the target of accusations of helping vanish considering amounts of public money in a two-day media campaign in which newspaper Gazeta Sporturilor, which has spearheaded an investigation in this regard, said the Ministry "bought news" for electoral purposes.
UPDATE President Traian Basescu accepted Ridzi's resignation in 15 minutes following the minister's announcement.
She said in a press statement on Tuesday afternoon that:
- she has already submitted her resignation to prime minister Emil Boc
- she considered herself innocent in the case for which she has been investigated as that "I acted lawfully"
- she contributed with all bodies, including an parliamentary commission investigating her case, and provided all the necessary documents to prove her innocence
- the House of Deputies commission's decisions have proven that political parties are interested in keeping the issue on the public agenda
- an alliance between the Social Democrats (PSD, members of the governing coalition with Ridzi's Democratic Liberals-PDL) and the National Liberal Party (PNL) was interested in keeping the debate going
- her family could no longer bear with the situation
- she would continue to collaborate with official bodies investigating her case
Gazeta Sporturilor, a sports newspaper, has launched a major series of investigative reports a month ago showing that Monica Iacob Ridzi has spent several hundred thousands euro on a campaign to promote a series of youth-oriented Ministry events in early May this year. The money was used, among others, to buy advertising, but also to "buy news and reports" on several television stations which are hit by ad recession.
The case - which involved what the Audiovisual Council admitted to be "electoral advertising" for Ridzi and President Traian Basescu's daughter Elena Basescu, now a MEP - has been thoroughly discussed by a parliamentary investigative commission and has come to the attention of the National Anti-Corruption Department (DNA). The investigations to see how the public money was spent in this case continue.