Friday, April 18, 2014

Morelle Resigns

Another nail in François Hollande's coffin? His close advisor and longtime friend Aquilino Morelle has resigned under fire, despite his having mounted a vigorous defense against Médiapart's accusation that he was involved in a conflict of interest because he consulted to drug companies while employed by the state agency charged with regulating them. Morelle claims he respected all the rules governing such outside work, but even if true, the "optics" of the situation were just disastrous for a regime already haunted by the Cahuzac affair, which lingered on for months as the accused vehemently denied all charges, even before the National Assembly, only to resign in even greater ignominy than when the truth was finally established. So, lesson learned: the story had barely broken when the new head of the Socialist Party began to hint that Morelle would have to go. Morelle posted his denial on Facebook, but today he resigned. And no doubt he was told to walk the plank.

Moi, président: everyone remembers François Hollande's anaphoric litany of all the things that would change when he was elected to replace Nicolas Sarkozy. France would defy the German insistence on austerity; unemployment would begin to decrease; the budget deficit would disappear; and exemplary behavior would become the norm at the top levels of government. It's all ashes now.

Governing is hard. There's no shame in making decisions that turn out to be wrong in the face of massive uncertainty, conflicting advice, and expert disagreement. Even in matters of ethics there are gray areas. But it should be obvious to any schoolchild that consulting to an industry you're supposed to be regulating crosses an ethical line. The only surprise is that this transgression took so long to surface.


Mary Campbell Gallagher said...

As you know, Art, I am concerned about the damage that the party in power in Paris will do to the city's beauty. Conflicts of interest abound, here, too. The deputy mayor in charge of culture, Christophe Girard, is on the board of LVMH, one of the chief developers of large projects threatening the beauty of Paris. No wonder LVMH can put up a Gehry-designed museum in the Bois de Boulogne. No wonder it can tear the face off the Samaritaine on the historic banks of the Seine. The blogger Delanopolis writes:

En l’espèce, M. GIRARD exerce les fonctions d’adjoint au Maire de Paris en charge de la Culture. Parallèlement, il est salarié de la société LVMH où il occupe le poste de directeur de la stratégie de la branche la plus importante du groupe (mode et maroquinerie).

En sa qualité d’adjoint au Maire de Paris, il était concerné par au moins deux dossiers (la fondation LOUIS VUITTON pour la culture, en construction dans le bois de Boulogne et l’exposition au Musée CARNAVALET dénommée “Voyage en capitale, LOUIS VUITTON et Paris”). Par ailleurs, on concevrait mal qu’il ait été tenu à l’écart du projet immobilier de LA SAMARITAINE, appartenant au groupe LVHM, aux implications patrimoniales et culturelles multiples.
Conflit d’intérêts : Christophe GIRARD doit démissionner !



Anonymous said...

Morelle's stint at Inspecteur Général of Social Affairs: "I only work two days out of the week"...

Maybe this position should be axed along with all the other things which will disappear with the €50 million spending cuts.

FrédéricLN said...

"it should be obvious to any schoolchild that consulting to an industry you're supposed to be regulating crosses an ethical line."

Yes indeed; but moreover, it' not any kind of "consulting" — I'm quite sensitive to that, as a consultant myself ;-)

It's not "consulting" in, say, IT, HR, occupational health, not even consulting in tax avoidance.

Mr Morelle's "consulting" was about helping pharmaceutical firms to get acquainted with policymakers and — just — have lunch with them, in order to avoid that the State reduces the prices at which it buys their drugs.

And that's the sport played by the largest number of people around (elected) politicians. Maybe not specific to France, surely not new, but clearly a massive intoxication of policymaking by private interests.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see more analysis on this on your blog. I find this to be very helpful. Please be more expansive in your commentary. And thank you.