Geneva MP fined for revealing state secrets
Controversial Geneva MP Eric Stauffer is appealing a fine and suspended sentence against him from a police court for violating government confidentiality rules.
Stauffer, 48, on Monday received a 1,000-franc fine and a suspended financial penalty equivalent to 20 days’ pay for divulging secret information about a state-run utility on the internet.
The member of the populist Geneva Citizens’ Movement (MCG) party published confidential information relating to the Services industriels de Genève (SIG) on the MCG’s blog in 2008 when he was a member of SIG’s board.
The information consisted of email correspondence between Stauffer and the secretary of SIG’s board, which the MP said showed dysfunctional behaviour by the utility’s top brass, the Tribune de Genève reported.
Stauffer, who is seeking election to the Geneva cabinet this year, said he published the emails because he was unable to obtain details about “hidden expenditures” relating to SIG’s financial involvement with other electrical companies, the newspaper reported online.
He added that he lost confidence in the then chairman of SIG, Daniel Mouchet, whom he accused of lying about the utility’s revenues and its activities relating to the planned treatment of garbage imported from Naples (a decision later reversed), the Tribune said.
Geneva’s chief prosecutor Yves Bertossa said Stauffer’s curiosity may have been legitimate but he had not exhausted legal avenues of obtaining the information he sought before illegally releasing the confidential information on the web.
The court found that Stauffer erred by publishing emails containing secret information solely destined for SIG’s administrators.
It noted that he should have contacted the cantonal government or a Geneva body that monitors government spending about his concerns.
The court ruling backed an order last year from prosecutor Bertossa for a suspended fine equivalent to 20 days’ pay.
Stauffer, an executive municipal councillor for the municipality of Onex and a Geneva MP since 2005, has made headlines for a series of spats over the past several years.
In 2008, he was ejected from Geneva’s parliament after being accused of insulting other politicians.
A year later, police arrested him for driving a scooter without a proper permit after it was suspended for a month when he was earlier caught speeding on a motorbike.
In February 2011, he engaged in a shoving match with a Green party MP at the city hall bar.
A year later, he threw water in the face of another MP while parliament was sitting.