Politician fired for claiming costs of council meeting commute from US

Carmen López was expelled from the Ciudadanos party after claiming expenses for the 4,000 miles commute from Chicago to attend council meetings.

Politician fired for claiming costs of council meeting commute from US
Photo: Carmen López.

Ciudadanos said that they had decided to expel Castilleja de la Cuesta councillor Carmen López from the organization because she had displayed “behaviour contrary to the principles and values of the party”, broadcaster Antena 3 reported on Tuesday.

López was elected to the Castilleja de la Cuesta council in May, but then moved more than 4,000 miles away from the town in Seville to Chicago, citing “family reasons”. 

The former Miss Seville then asked the town council to foot the bill for her lengthy travels back and forth each month. She insisted that she would still be able to perform her duties as a councillor and asked town officials for advanced warning of meetings so she would have “sufficient time” to plan her trips.

Ciudadanos said that “a councillor's job is to be on hand, in the streets, and to be interested in neighbour's problems – something that is difficult to do if you decide to move to Chicago”.

According to daily Spanish El Mundo, there is no rule to prohibit López from living abroad and she remains on the council.

López, the only elected Ciudadanos representative on the council, posted an open letter to Facebook on Wednesday, stating that she was forced to move for financial reasons and that her party did not support her.

She also complained about not receiving information from the city about meetings or responses to her requests for information.

In an interview last month, López explained that she and her family had to move because they could not afford to live in Spain anymore and her husband had found a job in Chicago.
She said that she told the party about the move beforehand and asked to ensure that a replacement would still be representative of the party and what her supporters wanted. When she did not hear from them about a solution, López said she asked if she could be reimbursed for travel costs.
She also said this request was because the council refused to let her participate in meetings via videoconferencing.

Last week, López could not attend a meeting physically, so she attempted to show her commitment by having her father attend while she was on a video call with him through his cellphone, according to El Mundo. The mayor asked him to leave the session.