MADRID – The case of the President of the Community of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, took a major turn on February 17. That day, the President – for the first time – publicly acknowledged that her brother had “maintained commercial relations” with Priviet Sportive S.L. In April 2020, this firm made an expedited €1.5 million deal with Ayuso’s government, which bought and distributed face masks around the Community of Madrid. The firm is owned by a friend of Tomás Díaz Ayuso, the President’s brother, raising suspicions of corruption. Moreover, Tomás Díaz Ayuso also received €286,000 as compensation in the deal. However, much of the news surrounding this deal has focused on a report from El Mundo and El Confidencial that Pablo Casado’s leadership had contacted a private investigative firm to investigate the transaction
The President claims she only learned about this last transaction when her party’s leader, the Partido Popular’s (PP) Pablo Casado, brought it up in a meeting in September 2021. She then recalls talking to her brother, who confirmed its legality. The President defends her brother’s integrity, mentioning that he has worked in the health industry for over 26 years, and that the payment was for “the work done to obtain the material from China and get it to Madrid,” and not a “commission to get the contract with the administration.”
Ayuso also affirms that the contract was approved by all necessary parties, including a doctor near the top of Madrid’s Health Service (Sermas). On Saturday, February 19, Spanish media confirmed that a different, lower-ranking member of Sermas actually authorized the deal. In court, the President claimed that Casado’s inner circle is instigating espionage against her and her family. She accuses her party’s leader of concocting a plan to “destroy” her political career.
“The director of the PP is acting in a cruel and unjust fashion against me,” Ayuso claims.
Casado maintains that the investigation into Ayuso’s possible wielding of influence was to answer legitimate questions, and that instead of treating her poorly, he is merely “requesting information.” He also has reiterated that internal party investigations of financial irregularities are commonplace. Due to Ayuso’s accusations of “espionage” against Casado, he has proposed legal action against her “grave accusations.”
Since her entry into Spanish politics in 2017, Ayuso has rapidly become a riding star in the PP. Casado, on the other hand, showed a poorer than expected performance in the Castilla y León regional elections on Sunday, February 13. Spanish media is portraying the PP as a battleground, where only one of the two accusers can come out on top. While Casado shares his disappointment in Ayuso and continues to deny her accusations, the Community of Madrid President describes her colleague’s alleged actions as “the worst thing you can expect from politicians.” Many PP supporters have sided with Audi, staging protests outside PP’s headquarters in Madrid demanding the dismissal of Pablo Casado. As the duel continues, its potential long-lasting effects on Spanish politics remain to be seen.