Ignazio Marino, the mayor of Rome, resigned Thursday amid an ongoing scandal over misuse of city expenses, Italian newspaper La Stampa reported. Marino was accused of using his city hall credit card to pay for 20,000 euros ($22,585) worth of personal dinners and parties.
Marino, 60, who was elected to a five-year term in 2013, has been at the center of numerous scandals in the cash-strapped city and been called upon by several members of his party to resign on multiple occasions. The scandal, dubbed "dinnergate" by the Italian media, is the latest in a string of bad press for the Roman mayor, with stories that ranged from driving his car with an expired license on traffic-restricted streets to allowing a prominent member of the Italian mafia to be buried in a glitzy funeral procession on the outskirts of the city.
The Roman economy has been struggling to recover from a nationwide economic recession beginning in 2011 that resulted in high unemployment and stagnant growth. The city has hiked up sales and hotel taxes in an effort to boost growth from its thriving tourism industry, as local budgets continue to remain low. Marino's alleged misuse of public funds hit home even harder for Rome residents who have seen their city deteriorating under the effects of the recession.
+++ BREAKING - Mayor of Rome resigns +++ http://t.co/1mPAuJXod2
— Marco Castelnuovo (@chedisagio) October 8, 2015
Pope Francis, leader of the Roman Catholic Church, has been an outspoken critic of the Roman mayor, even going so far as to say Marino only "pretends to be Catholic," Agence France-Presse reported in September. After the mayor showed up on the last leg of the pontiff's U.S. tour, rumors circulated that the pair were friendly. Francis quashed those rumors when he told members of the press, “I did not invite Mayor Marino. Is that clear?” adding, "I didn’t do it and I asked the organizers and they didn’t invite him either. He [just] came," the Guardian reported the pope as saying.
Under Italian law, the disgraced mayor can rescind his resignation and stay in office if he chooses to do so within the next 20 days.