Stefan Sichermann, who runs satirical website Der Postillon, dated his story on Ronald Pofalla’s potential move to Deutsche Bahn to Wednesday, making it look like he had broken the story a day ahead of national media.
Many Facebook and Twitter users believed the satirical site over established media outlets and thought the idea of Pofalla joining the board of the country’s train operator was a joke.
Pofalla has been heavily criticized in Germany since declaring the NSA spying scandal over in August – weeks before it emerged Merkel’s phone had been tapped by American security services. The former chief of staff announced in December he would stand down from his post to spend more time with his family.
And the 54-year-old’s potential move to Deutsche Bahn so soon after leaving office has also sparked concern.
Campaign group LobbyControl said on Friday: “It can not be that large companies such as Daimler or Deutsche Bahn buy highly paid insider contacts within the government.”
They called for a three-year gap between government officials leaving office and taking up lobbying roles.
A government spokesman said that what Pofalla chose to do after leaving office was not their business.