Spain minister resigns over tax record after days in office
MADRID (AP) — Spain’s minister of culture resigned Wednesday after just under a week in office after news reports revealed he was fined a decade ago for evading thousands of euros (dollars) in taxes.
Maxim Huerta, a former television presenter and writer, said he did nothing illegal, but chose to step down to shield the new government of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez from criticism.
Huerta was sworn in as culture and sports minister last Thursday, days after Sanchez ousted the previous prime minister, Mariano Rajoy.
Sanchez, a socialist, based his bid to supplant Rajoy on the numerous graft scandals tainting the then-prime minister’s conservative Popular Party.
After winning passage in Parliament of a no-confidence motion against Rajoy’s government, Sanchez promised to root out corruption from Spain’s institutions. His pledge boomeranged Wednesday when news website El Confidencial published a court ruling that fined Huerta for failing to declare over 218,000 euros ($257,000) between 2006 and 2008.
Appearing before reporters after meeting with Sanchez, Huerta said the fine resulted from a lawsuit he filed against taxation authorities for changing rules.
But the choice to resign, he added, was intended to show the transparency of the new administration.
“We live in a society drowned out by noise, insults and misinformation,” Huerta said, describing the tax revelations as an attempt to “undermine the regeneration project” of Sanchez.
“I’m not going to allow that, because these are new times and the innocents prefer to leave and not to splash those who want clean politics,” he added.