State prosecutors have their own way of doing things. It’s understandable, obviously – some jobs are harder to do than others: like when a company is accused of illegally exporting assault rifles to Mexico, and the state prosecutors have to investigate it. That sounds like hard work, so unsurprisingly the state prosecutors of Stuttgart, under whose remit the case fell, left it for four years and then only get round to searching the company’s offices after the TV documentary comes out.
But sometimes the jobs you have to do are a lot more fun. Like when the president of Germany is accused of getting a discount in a posh hotel. Suddenly everyone in the office wants to volunteer – “It’s like Watergate!” they all say excitedly. “We’ll definitely be famous.” Then it’s amazing how much determination you can muster with a slightly expensive hotel bill and some lobbying accusations. Here’s what happened: In 2008, a film producer called David Groenewold invited Christian Wulff and his wife Bettina to the Oktoberfest in Munich and paid their €800 hotel bill. Later, Wulff asked Siemens to help finance one of Groenewold’s films. Okay, it’s slightly shabby – and he shouldn’t have left an arsey voicemail with the editor of Bild when it was coming out – but it’s not exactly horse-head-in-the-bed time either. And it definitely isn’t the massive case of political corruption the German media made it out to be.
Wulff, who was forced to resign when the investigation began in 2012, was cleared of all corruption charges last month, and this week, the same week that Christian Wulff released his book about the business, the state prosecutors decided they would not appeal. Seeing as they didn’t have a case in the first place. Not that that has stopped the German media slamming the book with a lot of headlines along the lines of, “Wulff blames everyone but himself.” But the sometimes the media is just as good at playing that game.