I read in the papers that Josep Lluís Alay, president Puigdemont’s chief of staff, might be indicted for misuse of public funds after he spent eleven euros on a motorway toll when he travelled to the Lledoners prison to visit some of the Catalan political prisoners. My initial gut reaction is one of acute embarrassment: the cringe feeling that overcomes you when you see someone making a fool of themselves.
My second reaction —considering that the issue here is the deed, not the actual amount— is surprise at the fact that someone might categorically believe that visiting the prisoners in Lledoners is not within the purview of the president’s chief of staff and that, therefore, it might be regarded as a misuse of public money, regardless of the sum. It is neither a criminal activity nor does it seem incompatible with Alay’s institutional responsibilities.
My third feeling is to wonder about the hundreds of eleven euro receipts that must be lying around in the drawers of many government offices, some of which must be much harder to justify as a legitimate expense. Are all of these expenses being probed or merely a few? Will this case trigger a string of indictments over hypothetical misuses of eleven euros?
At least on movies, first a crime is committed and then you try to find the offender and not the other way round. In this case, once you have the alleged culprit, you try to find something you can pin on them.