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Now booking: Leticia, the Popular Party’s children’s entertainer

TV star stresses rightwing convictions to help secure performance deals

A promotional photograph of Leticia Sabater. Ampliar foto
A promotional photograph of Leticia Sabater.

The TV presenter and actress Leticia Sabater has got herself into hot water of the political kind. The reality TV show favorite has no qualms about mixing politics with her professional life. Not only does she not hide her support for the governing conservative Popular Party (PP), but she also targets the municipal and provincial governments it runs and drops the name of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to get them to book her live summer shows for children.

On June 25 Sabater sent off an email that was meant for the president of the provincial delegation in Almería, Gabriel Amat of the PP. By mistake, however, it ended up in the hands of the head of the provincial delegation of Jaén, the Socialist Francisco Reyes. “They gave me your telephone number at Génova [the PP’s main headquarters in Madrid],” she wrote, before offering “a good price” of 3,500 euros, later reduced to 2,500, for two children’s musical performances: El mago de Oz (The Wizard of Oz) and Super clan mucha marcha.

Sabater states in the message that she has been putting on her performances for other PP provincial delegations, such as those of Valencia and Alicante, “for years” and that she does “little tours in the summer with municipal governments in their areas that they manage from each provincial headquarters.” That is why she is asking Amat to step in to help get “four or five municipal governments” in Almería to book her this summer.

“And you already know that I am one of us,” Sabater goes on to explain to the Almerian PP leader. The Andalusian province is, what’s more, a part of the world she adores but in which she has never performed, she says.

Sabater also namedrops Rajoy, whom she says she knows and is “charming.”

Socialist sources in Jaén say the message “sows doubts about the booking system employed by the PP and favoritism when it comes to selecting cultural programs.”

When you come out politically, many doors close”

PP sources deny both ever having passed any telephone number to Sabater and the fact that she enjoys any kind of special relationship with Rajoy.

Sabater has never hidden her affinity for the PP. In fact, in the letter to the president of the provincial delegation of Almería, she presents herself as a “PP artist who has collaborated with the party for years.” She points out that her commitment to the party stretches back to the 1990s when she was hired to present a European election event in which former PP Prime Minister José María Aznar starred. “I made my ideology public, as the party asked the favor of me,” she adds.

Barcelona-born Sabater confirmed her commitment to the PP when asked by EL PAÍS. “When you come out politically, the leftist municipal governments book you less; that is why I target the PP.”

She says Rajoy is a “truly great prime minister” and admits he said hello to her at an event for fellow PP-supporting artists and performers. “He thanked me for supporting the party,” she says.

Her PP leanings have not led to any special treatment, she says. In fact they have only damaged her career. “When you come out politically, many doors close,” she says. Sabater also reveals that she was recently submitted to a tax inspection that required her to pay 35,000 euros.

“Rajoy thanked me”

EL PAÍS

Leticia Sabater used a TV interview with Telecinco talk show Sálvame to explain her relationship with the Popular Party (PP) on Friday. The presenter defended her support for the party, saying her “negotiator in the PP is José María Michavila.”

Michavila is a former justice minister who now runs an agency that provides legal representation for performers such as music star Shakira.

Sabater said she had “no relationship” with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, nor had she ever been in contact with him. But she did confirm she had met him at a social function. “We were once at a drinks party where there were many PP artists. Then Mariano Rajoy came up to me and said: ‘I know you contribute to the party, thank you very much.’”

She also explained that if she had the telephone number of the head of the provincial delegation of Almería it was because “a PP secretary” had given it to her, but declined to offer further specifics.

The presenter says she is pained by the fact that the PP doesn’t treat the performers closest to it in the same way that other parties do their supporters. “I would like greater support for PP artists, as the PSOE does with theirs.”

Moments later, in another conversation, Sabater points out she is “delighted” with the PP and justifies her letters to institutions governed by the party in the following way: “I always remind them that I am PP so the municipal and provincial governments know it.”

She also admits to giving much better deals to the PP governments that hire her: “Yes, I let them have a cheaper price.”

On the subject of the message to the president of the provincial delegation in Almería in which she asks him to book her, Sabater claims it is because she has a special fondness for the area. She attributes the error that led to it ending up in the hands of the Socialists in Jaén to her secretary.

In May Sabater began a new stage of her career in Benidorm, Alicante, when she became the new image of Envidia pura, a company that organizes events and represents models and hostesses.

She was, however, already a well-known figure in the area. In 2008, under former leader José Joaquín Ripoll, the Alicante provincial delegation organized the International San Juan Beach Festival that featured a mobile platform which hosted all kinds of performances. Sabater was hired to run the children’s events with the aim “of giving the festival more status,” then-provincial culture chief Pedro Romero said at the time. However, on Wednesday provincial delegation sources in Alicante denied ever having booked Sabater’s services under Ripoll’s mandate, or the current one of Luisa Pastor.

The Valencia provincial delegation also denies ever having any contractual relationship with Sabater, even though press reports say her El mago de Oz show ended up being put on in the town of Requena.