Center discussing Mailis Reps' future after new scandal

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The Center Party is discussing the future of deputy party leader and former education minister Mailis Reps after it was reported that the ministry paid for her 45th birthday dinner at a fancy Tallinn restaurant.

Daily newspaper Õhtuleht reported on Sunday that Reps, when education minister, had the Ministry of Education and Research pay for her 45th birthday dinner in January of 2020. The bill totaled four figures. 

On Tuesday, newspaper Postimees reported (link in English) that the heads of the Center Party met yesterday to discuss Reps fate but no quick solution is on the horizon.

Sources from the Center Party said that it is no longer a matter of whether Reps will pass the baton in the Riigikogu but how to do it without her appearing to own up to everything. "What you say there could put you on the spot," a source said.

"Things that need investigating need to be investigated by the police and the prosecution," said Erkki Keldo, secretary general of Center's coalition partner the Reform Party. "Any additional questions the media or public might have need to be thoroughly answered by Center and Mailis Reps."

So far, Reps has not commented on the issue. Chairman of the Party Jüri Ratas has said the party will comment after speaking to Reps.

Reps stepped down as minister of education in November after it was revealed she used her ministerial car for personal use, including on a family trip to Croatia.

On November 24, the police initiated misdemeanor proceedings against her under a section of the Anti-Corruption Act concerning the corrupt use of public funds.

On February 19, Reps was formally suspected of embezzlement. The suspicion of misappropriation includes the installation of a Jura coffee machine purchased for the ministry, the use of a ministry car with a fuel bill for a Croatian family trip, a €360 bill for accommodation spent and over €1,500 for compensation for family tickets.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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