Alligators and stolen cars: German politicians on holiday
Health Minister Ulla Schmidt was under fire on Sunday after it emerged that thieves had made off with her 90,000 euro official Mercedes S-class during her holiday on the Costa Blanca in southeastern Spain.
Berlin -- One is in hot water after her car was stolen in Spain, another found himself in alligator-infested waters in Florida: the holiday season has been anything but relaxing for two German politicians.
Health Minister Ulla Schmidt was under fire on Sunday after it emerged that thieves had made off with her 90,000 euro (128,000 dollar) official Mercedes S-class during her holiday on the Costa Blanca in southeastern Spain.
The minister flew to Alicante at her own expense but her driver drove the 2,387 kilometres (1,483 miles) from Berlin to assist her in carrying out some official duties, prompting outrage from the press and rival politicians.
The head of campaign group "the taxpayers' union," Reiner Holznagel, told mass circulation Bild am Sonntag: "We want an explanation as to why her official car had to be taken some 5,000 kilometres across Europe. Taxpayers' money should not be used for the comfort of a minister."
Schmidt's spokeswoman said she intended to use the car only for official functions such as a meeting on Monday with Germans living in Spain, but the head of the parliamentary budget committee said she would have to explain why she did not use an embassy vehicle.
"Like all cabinet members, the minister for health has at her disposal a service car with a driver for official and private use. In this year's Spanish holiday, she used the service car several times for official and private purposes," the ministry said later Sunday in a statement.
The press was somewhat kinder however to former Bavarian state leader Guenther Beckstein who said he "came within a whisker of being eaten by an alligator."
The 65-year-old was on a trip through the Florida Everglades to observe alligators when their boat suddenly capsized. "Thank God, no alligator attacked us," he told the Augsburger Allgemeine Zeitung.