Party to pay for PM’s puffs

Denmark’s Liberal Party says it will foot the bill for a controversial smoking cabin that was installed in the office of former Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, so as not to divert attention away from “important political work”.

On the request of Løkke Rasmussen, the ministry calculated that the booth cost DKK 110,600 (EUR 14,900), but it had not been decided whether or not the former PM would reimburse the party from his own pocket.

“The issue risks moving the focus away from the important political work that the Liberal Party has to carry out. So the party has decided to pay the bill,” Party Secretary Claus Søgaard-Richter said in a report by Politiken.

“Lars Løkke Rasmussen did not take the decision to rent [the smoking cabin]. The expenditure is fully within existing guidelines and there is therefore no requirement for reimbursement. But the Liberal party does not want a long debate as to whether the taxpayer should pay or not. We want full focus on the political work that the Liberal Party and its chairman have to do,” Claus Søgaard-Richter added.

The recent revelation that Løkke Rasmussen had a smoking cabin installed in his office has been met with particular criticism, especially after Liberal Party officials last year slammed Social Democratic minister Mette Gjerskov for doing the same. At the time, Liberal health spokeswoman Sophie Løhde described the situation as “Social Democratic arrogance”, and Gjerskov eventually agreed to pay for the booth herself. The fact that Løkke Rasmussen also had a smoking cabin during his time in office had not been made public at that time.

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