Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy, Elif Doğan Türkmen, on Saturday announced her resignation from the Parliament Presidency Council, after party Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu demanded Friday, that Türkmen be relieved from her council duties, amid a phone bill scandal.
According to a statement issued by the CHP press office, Türkmen, however, will be allowed to keep her post as a deputy following her resignation.
The CHP deputy made headlines for racking up an astronomical communications bill, totaling more than TL 1.2 million ($321,130) in a single year, for phone calls and print ads sent to fellow party members.
The money used to foot the bill came from an unlimited budget provided by the Parliament. Although both the CHP deputy and its Chairman Kılıçdaroğlu had initially defended the astronomical bill and blamed the Parliament for providing unlimited communication funds to deputies. The party later withdrew the accusations on Friday.
Meanwhile, CHP Deputy Türkmen defended herself, arguing that she used the parliamentary funding to reach out to her voters, compatriots and the broader public. In a written statement, she said, "I don't think I should be held accountable for expensive costs incurred by Parliament for communication services. I was never informed of the cost. The real question should be how parliamentary officials procured these services at such high rates?"
The bill was the result of a massive number of SMSs being sent to students, wishing them good luck, before they took a university admission exam, along with expensive print invitations for CHP rallies, which were delivered to more than a million people in Türkmen's electorate in southern Turkey.
Though the deputy insisted that she was not guilty of anything, public outrage against her grew on social media, especially after it was revealed that her communication bill for January, had already reached TL 700,000.
Some social media users mocked the bill, saying that with that amount she could send more than 6 million SMSs and talk more than 6 million minutes or download 25 terabytes of films in one month while others called on Türkmen to pay the bill herself.
The astronomical bill corresponds to six years' worth of a deputy's salary.
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