Standards Commissioner Joe Azzopardi will not investigate Project Green CEO Steve Ellul over being promoted by songstress and social media influencer Ira Losco since he does not, yet, fit the definition of a politically exposed person.
Azzopardi said in a partial decision that he will, however, proceed with an investigation into Environment and Energy Minister Miriam Dalli’s role in the matter.
The development comes following The Shift’s report on how Losco was surreptitiously using her personal social media platforms to promote Minister Dalli and Ellul, a prospective MEP candidate, through a public contract and without stating that the posts were sponsored content.
Independent politician Arnold Cassola had filed a complaint on the matter to the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life after the story was published.
Losco had been promoting Project Green’s initiatives by posting photos of her and her family enjoying the new and improved public areas.
The celebrity was also inserting links in her social media posts to the personal pages of Minister Dalli and prospective MEP candidate Steve Ellul, whom Dalli has chosen to run the agency and its €700 million budget.
Cassola reported this morning that he has received a reply from the Standards Commissioner over his complaint about public funds being used for personal political promotions to the effect that Ellul does not, strictly speaking, fall within the parameters of politically appointed persons as defined by Article 2 of the Standards Commissioner Act.
The Commissioner will, however, continue to investigate Minister Dalli’s role in the affair.
While it is almost a certainty among Labour insiders that Ellul is preparing to contest the 2024 MEP elections, he has so far not publicly confirmed his electoral intentions and has only said he is leaving his options open.
As such, Ellul is still not considered to be a politically exposed person.
But as Project Green CEO, Ellul has been entrusted with driving the government’s new green agenda and implementing its hundreds of millions of euros worth of highly popular projects aimed at greening the island.
Ellul had been appointed to the role by Dalli, herself a former MEP.
Losco, on her part, has so far not said how much she has been paid for the promotion and asked The Shift to request such information from Project Green itself
The Shift reported how Losco’s social media posts showing her with her family at parks and recently-refurbished outdoor spaces were being sponsored by the government through a publicity contract reached between Losco and Ellul.
Losco’s posts did not specify that they were sponsored content. The singer, who has over 150,000 followers on Facebook alone, also tagged the personal social media pages of Environment Minister Miriam Dalli and Ellul, a prospective Labour Party MEP candidate.