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Bruni-Sarkozy under fire over cost of website

July 29, 2013

PARIS (AP) — France’s former first lady, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, is threatening legal action after an online petition asked her to repay nearly half a million euros used to fund her website while her husband was president.

A website developer started a petition asking her to repay 410,000 euros, the amount the website cost French taxpayers from January 2011 to May 2012, when her husband, Nicolas Sarkozy, left office. As of Monday afternoon, the petition had already been signed by more than 80,000 people.

The developer argues the site could have been maintained for much less, and wants the model-turned-singer to donate the money to charity.

Bruni-Sarkozy’s lawyer Richard Malka said Monday in a statement that the money went only to promote the former first lady’s official activities.

“Carla Bruni-Sarkozy reserves the right to sue for all claims that would attack her personal honor,” Malka said.

He insisted that the site did not benefit the Carla Bruni-Sarkozy Foundation, a charitable organization that aims to bring education and culture to the poor — and which has the same web address as the old site dedicated to the former first lady.

The foundation says it kept the same address for practical reasons.

“She should still pay the money back,” insisted Nicolas Bousquet, the French website developer who started the petition. “I know the cost of such projects.”

A representative of the foundation insisted that its funding comes only from private sponsorships. The representative spoke on condition of anonymity because of the policy of the foundation.

Bruni-Sarkozy married Nicolas Sarkozy on February 2008. She is currently promoting her new album “Little French Songs.”

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