Under fire for the questionable payments distributed among the Popular Party’s top leaders, PP secretary general María Dolores de Cospedal vehemently denied that her organization engaged in any illegal activities, and insisted that all salaries and payments given to officials were reported to tax authorities.
A visibly defensive De Cospedal said that someone “is no doubt trying to hurt the party” in reference to the accounting records obtained by EL PAÍS, which she claimed were false. Without naming any media outlets, De Cospedal said the party was considering suing over the publication of the ledgers.
“There is only one accounting process done at the Popular Party and it is submitted annually to the Court of Auditors,” she said during a hastily convened news conference to refute the newspaper’s report. “All leaders, all employees receive their salaries through bank transfers from their regular payroll.”
De Cospedal explained to reporters that all PP members are reimbursed for their travel fees either prior to their journey or afterwards while other officials and employees can sometimes ask for “salary advances” for other reasons, “just like what occurs in many companies.”
When asked about a loan the current Senate speaker, Pío García Escudero, received from his party in 2000, De Cospedal said: “He would know whether he asked for and received a loan.”
Later in day, García Escudero confirmed that he did ask then-secretary general Javier Arenas for a five-million-peseta loan (about 30,000 euros) after his home was destroyed in an ETA attack in August 2000. He said he paid it back in full in one-million-peseta payments. His name appears in the accounting ledger prepared by Luis Bárcenas, the party’s former financial manager and treasurer, as having paid the loan in full.
“That fact may be true but that does not validate the document that has been published,” De Cospedal said in answer to further questioning about García Escudero’s loan.
Earlier in the day, the PP issued a statement. “The Popular Party has no knowledge of the handwritten notes that were published or their contents, and they cannot be recognized as belonging to this party’s books.”