Ulla Schmidt won’t be audited in car scandal

The government budgetary committee has opted not to have Germany’s Federal Court of Auditors review Health Minister Ulla Schmidt’s controversial use of her official car while on holiday in Spain.

Ulla Schmidt won't be audited in car scandal
Schmidt leaves the committee meeting with a smile. Photo: DPA

Politicians did not reach a consensus to pursue the affair, committee leader Otto Fricke told journalists late on Wednesday.

Opposition parties wanted to investigate the minister’s headline-grabbing conduct, but grand coalition parties the Christian Democrats and Schmidt’s own Social Democrats spoke against taking the matter any further.

Schmidt renewed her defence of the criticism after the meeting.

“The guidelines were correctly maintained,” she said of her trip to Spain, though she added she would not make the same choice again due to the fierce debate that followed.

“I assume that after today we can return to the business at hand,” she said.

Schmidt, who has been Health Minister for eight years and a member of parliament since 1990, has been damaged by revelations about how she used her government car. The affair erupted in July when it was stolen in Spain after she had told her chauffeur to drive from Berlin to her holiday home so she could undertake some official business.

Although she had flown to Spain on her own cost, the seeming profligacy of getting her €90,000 armoured Mercedes S-Class to meet her there on several vacations was a topic for debate and argument, particularly during an economic crisis.

After the Federal Court of Auditors cleared her of misuse in a preliminary report in early August, SPD chancellor candidate and current Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier took her onto his election team.

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