“Madam Prime Minister, you need to come to the office right now,” said Rick over the phone. Taylor Vellerin was the first female Prime Minister to be elected in the country and after four years of a successful first term, she was hoping to be her own successor. Rick Jones was her number one advisor and her right hand man – the 2:00am disaster control calls to the office had become a norm. Taylor dressed quickly, left a note for her husband and made her way to the office.
“The Oil Investment, it…well…” Rick struggled to get the words out. “Get to the point Rick!” “It collapsed,” he replied. “What? How much exactly did we lose?” questioned Taylor, the frustration quickly turning to worry. When she had first announced the investment a few months ago, it was met with angry protests and widespread criticism. The citizens were upset that their tax money was going toward a risky investment and Taylor had promised that they would reap the rewards. “2.2 billion dollars,” Rick answered hesitantly. Taylor slumped into her chair and swung her head back. “Oh my God,” she groaned with her hands over her face. With elections a year away she couldn’t afford a disaster like this. She looked at the file detailing the investment, trying to think of a solution.
“The stash, how much is in it?” Taylor asked. The stash was a secret account where Taylor and her government ministers stored all the money they had siphoned from the Central Bank for their personal use. Even the best of forensic accountants would find great difficulty in discovering the account. It was effectively untraceable. It had become a tradition. The incumbent government would meet with the newly elected one, almost like a secret society, to tell them exactly how to go about taking the money undetected. “What are you thinking?” asked Rick curiously.
“We could replace the money, undetected, no one would ever need to know what happened. And then, when we’re re-elected, we could just take it back,” Taylor explained. “No disrespect but a job like that would take weeks to complete if it’s going to fly under the radar and once word gets out that the investment bombed, it wouldn’t make sense to replace it,” reasoned Rick. “That’s the thing, word of this isn’t going to get out,” Taylor rebutted calmly, “we’re going to create a distraction.” “What can possibly be a bigger story than the government losing 2.2 billion dollars?” Rick asked. Taylor just smiled at him, and went into another room to call Owen Peters. Taylor hired him to transfer the money from the stash to the bank and he indicated to her that he would need about two weeks to complete the task. Taylor had to find a way to keep this mess under wraps for those two weeks.
The next day all the newpapers were carrying the same story on the front page- “Minister of Finance Sex Scandal!” read the headline of the leading newspaper. Other newpapers read “Finance Minister Dickmont?” and “Peedle’s Penis!” The hottest story was about the Minister of Finance, Durmont Peedle whose racey messages to his housekeeper were leaked. He had been soliciting flirtatious messages from the young, twenty-four-year-old woman that soon elevated into exchanges of a more explicit nature. In fact, the picture of Durmont’s penis that he sent to her was making its lap of victory on the various social media. It had become the latest meme. All anyone could talk about was Durmont’s indiscretion and to make matters worse, Durmont was married to an upstanding woman who was loved by all.
The following day, pictures of Durmont and the housekeeper in compromising positions surfaced, giving rise to the housekeeper herself being interviewed on one of the most popular morning shows. In the interview she described how Durmont emotionally manipulated her into having the affair and how she truly fell in love with him but now she sees that she was just being used. Durmont quickly became public enemy number one and the people were calling for his removal. Taylor quickly organised a press conference.
Taylor had practised what she was going to say and how she was going to say it. It had to come across as stern, yet concerned, kind but not lenient and most importantly strong and principled. The press conference was truly something to behold. Taylor’s monologue was praised by all. People started saying that a second term was now a certainty for her. “I, as a woman first and foremost, cannot stand by this behaviour. As much as I respect Mr. Peedle, I cannot respect his actions. Taking advantage of a young woman, using your influence to manipulate a woman and to betray your wife, is unacceptable. My government will not be a part of such actions and as of today, Mr. Peedle is removed from my government. I feel sorry for the young lady and his wife but I have no sympathy for him,” she reiterated to the masses, enrapturing them more and more with each passing syllable. She continued to talk about female empowerment and equality. By the end of it, she had convinced an entire nation to believe that she was the white knight, arriving just in time to save the country through the goodness of her own heart.
Over the next week, the newspapers kept producing updates on the sex scandal, debating whether Mr. Peedle’s wife would leave him, what his next move could be, where this could leave his political career. Not one paper mentioned the sour investment. Meanwhile, Mr. Peters worked slyly, quietly and diligently, completing his task in the given timeline. Taylor got the call from Mr. Peters while pulling up to a mansion. She got off the phone before ringing the doorbell. Mrs. Peedle answered the door.
“Hi, I would like to speak with you and your husband,” Taylor said politely as she invited herself in. The three sat in the living room before Taylor began to speak, “this is for your troubles,” she said as she handed Mr. Peedle an envelope. “Five million dollars? You cost me my entire career, you think five million dollars is going to cover that?” Mr. Peedle responded angrily as Mrs. Peedle sat quietly, glaring at Taylor. “And what about the girl?” Mr. Peedle enquired. “Oh please, we paid her off and my guys scared her so bad, she’s afraid to even think about talking,” replied Taylor proudly. “You ruined my career. You staged this salacious story to hide your mistake and secure a second term. I’m thirty-two years old, I could’ve been Prime Minister next and you destroyed any chance I had,” stated an irate Durmont, clearly annoyed by Taylor’s arrogance. “If I remember correctly, you agreed to this. You knew exactly what was going on so don’t play the victim with me. You want to have a political career? Then go have one, nothing is stopping you. These people are puppets on a string and it’s about time you learn how to make them dance. I’ll see myself out now,” countered Taylor. She then picked up her bag and walked out the house with her head high. She was not ashamed of what she had done. In her eyes, she did what was necessary. It was not her fault the public was more concerned with the sex life of a government Minister than where their taxes were actually going.
About three months had passed since the scandal. Taylor’s approval ratings were through the roof. Elections would be a formality as it was clear that she would be re-elected. Taylor went into a coffee shop and as she waiting for her drink, she looked at the news on the television above. A new report caught her attention. “Former Minister, Durmont Peedle and his wife are expecting a baby. Mr. Peedle gave a heartfelt interview detailing his and his wife’s struggle to conceive, his yearning for a baby and how that led him to an affair he regretted,” said the news reporter. Taylor looked around and saw the sympathetic looks on people’s faces. “Bravo Durmont, Bravo,” she whispered to herself as she smiled.