While current French President Francois Hollande might be migrating from bed to bed, former—and possibly future—president Nicolas Sarkozy is a “kept man” in the clutches of his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, according to newly-leaked tapes recorded during Sarkozy’s presidential tenure.
The former president and his wife are taking legal action over the secret audio recordings that purport to relay the power couple’s private interactions and potentially incriminating conversations between Sarkozy and his advisers.
So far, Mrs. Sarkozy’s playful jabs about financing her husband’s life are the most scandalous revelations from the transcripts—dubbed “Sarkoleaks”—which were published this week in the satirical magazine Le Canard Enchaîné and on the right-leaning news website Atlantico. The latter includes a transcript from a 2011 meeting in which Bruni teases Sarkozy for not making enough money as head of state, joking about “maintaining” him and losing money as the wife of a politician: “I thought I was marrying a guy that made some money… I had lucrative contracts and now nothing…”
Given Bruni’s prior success as a model and musician, her quips about being the breadwinner don’t exactly amount to damning material. But the Sarkozys are going to great lengths to ensure that no other content from the transcripts is leaked to the public. Their lawyers have said the couple “cannot accept that remarks made in private were recorded and published without their consent” and that they are prosecuting through “an emergency proceeding soon to be filed through the Paris Grand Instance Court.”
“I thought I was marrying a guy that made some money,” Bruni says on the tapes. “I had lucrative contracts and now nothing.”
The secret recordings were reportedly made by Patrick Buisson, Sarkozy’s former campaign adviser, who claims they are authentic but maintains he had no role in their publication. The tapes were kept for Buisson’s personal records, his lawyers have said, because he “could not take written notes.” It should be noted thatBuisson didn’t have the most favorable opinion of Sarkozy, whom he refers to as “the little guy” and “the dwarf” in the tapes.
The Sarkoleaks seem innocuous enough, but the timing of their mysterious publication (just two weeks before local elections in which Sarkozy’s UMP party hoped to defeat Hollande’s Socialists) has fueled suspicion about a broader political scandal.
Even if no more incriminating material emerges, the French may have doubts about Sarkozy’s decision to hire Buisson, who is connected to the populist far right. Either way, the leaks have cast a shadow over the former president—and may well hurt his party’s chances of winning the upcoming elections, if not his own chances in 2017.