PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron said Friday he believes he is not “at the heart of the investigation” into the role played by consultancy firms in his 2017 and 2022 presidential campaigns.
Macron hinted at “political attacks,” in his first public reaction to revelations Thursday that French prosecutors were looking into allegations of irregular campaign accounting and suspicions of underbilling of work performed by consultancy firms during the campaigns.
“There have been a lot of political attacks on a topic. It’s on this topic that a preliminary inquiry has been opened,” he said in a veiled reference to the lengthy controversy over his ties to the U.S. consultancy firm McKinsey.
Speaking in Dijon, Macron told reporters he wasn’t worried and that his 2017 campaign accounts had been scrutinized and approved.
In addition to the inquiry opened last month into the funding of Macron’s presidential campaign, investigators belonging to France’s National Financial Prosecutor’s office are also looking into allegations of “favoritism.” According to newspaper Le Parisien, there are suspicions of wrongdoing concerning the “conditions” in which public contracts were attributed by the French government to McKinsey.
Asked whether he had given lucrative public contracts to consultants who had worked pro bono on his presidential campaign, Macron said, “I tell you no … I’ve already said so before.”
“I can tell you what a president of the Republic does and what he does not do. He will not go and meddle in the granting of this or that public contract,” he said.
Macron has repeatedly come under fire over his ties to McKinsey, dating back to his first election campaign. POLITICO first reported last year that the government hired the leading consultancy to help with its coronavirus vaccine rollout, raising questions about the Macron administration’s overall use of consultancies.
A four-month investigation led by senators and published in March found that the government and French public administrations had signed contracts worth at least €2.4 billion with consultancy firms since 2018. The report stated that consulting expenses at government ministries had more than doubled since Macron came to power in 2017, with a sharp acceleration in 2021.
Controversies over contracts granted to consulting firms dogged Macron’s bid for reelection this year, and led the government to announce new rules to rein in the use of external firms for policymaking.