Did Sarkozy's son use palace pull to get music grant?

President Nicolas Sarkozy, after dealing with charges of nepotism involving his son Jean, is now in a flap over accusations his adviser helped his hip hop producer son Pierre.

Philippe Wojazer/Reuters
French President Nicolas Sarkozy waits for guests outside the Elysees Palace in Paris on Nov. 5.

In France it is a tale of one and now two sons – of President Nicolas Sarkozy. Last month Mr. Sarkozy rolled eyeballs around the Republic when his son Jean, 23 and not finished with college, was tapped as a candidate to run Paris' wealthiest district, La Defense. A slightly shocked public reaction brought a withdrawal from Sarkozy the younger.

Now French media reports that Sarkozy's older son Pierre, 24 and a hip-hop music producer who goes by the name Mosey, was given a questionable boost by the Elysées Palace last month to secure a grant from a private music consortium.

The flap is minor but follows an announcement last week by the Palace of a four-month national discussion over French identity and values, which includes the veritable concept here of equality.

A bit more of a prodigal son than brother Jean, Pierre Sarkozy (he has produced for French rapper Doc Gyneco, met US rapper Diddy, and was at Timbaland's high-profile 2008 wedding in Aruba) applied in September for funds from the Society for Record Producers, or SCPP. The amount requested was less than €10,000 ($15,000). But Sarkozy was turned down under rules that only society members (which include Sony and EMI) can receive grants.

Shortly after, according to music industry website ElectronLibre and media including the intrepid Rue 89, an advisor to President Sarkozy contacted the heads of SCPP. French media reports the outcome was an agreement to review the grant proposal.

Yesterday Sarkozy advisor Eric Garandeau said he had been in touch with SCPP official Marc Guez. But in a press release to Agence France-Press he described the call as routine, saying the palace is "always solicited by producers who have been refused" by the SCPP. Mr. Garandeau said he communicated both orally and in writing that the palace was not asking for a favor and that Pierre Sarkozy was not mentioned by name.

In turn, Rue 89 queried whether it is "in the remit of an adviser of the French president to find out why his son's dossier was refused by an independent body?"

The Palace does have ties to the music industry through First Lady Carla Bruni, the fashion model and pop singer who has just appeared on a new album by Harry Connick Jr. covering the early Beatles song "And I Love Her."

The two young men are from President Sarkozy's first marriage. Jean Sarkozy has tread more in his father footsteps. He looks and speaks like the president and welcomes media coverage. Pierre Sarkozy has long locks and eschews the spotlight. His rap career is vaguely known by the public. As interior minister, Nicolas Sarkozy was involved in legal action against some rap artists and industry figures over public statements that allegedly contained hostile messages about French police.

The Jean Sarkozy affair in October involved Sarkozy's son being leapfrogged over the serving president of La Defense's wealthy urban council. The plan was to replace the council's chief, an experienced official named Patrick Devedjian, with the younger Sarkozy. He still sits on the board of the council; it is speculated he may try to run for the seat in 16 months.

Nicolas Sarkozy was criticized during the 2007 presidential campaign for issuing an all-points bulletin to French police to recover a scooter stolen from Jean Sarkozy. The effort involved significant hours of detective work, which is often not attempted when the scooters of ordinary people are pilfered, critics said.

During the media buzz on Pierre, a piece from Vanity Fair cited his meeting with the American rapper Sean Combs – aka Puff Daddy, Puff Diddy, P.Diddy, and now Diddy – in New York. Mr. Diddy's assistant didn't know who "these white guys were," Vanity Fair said, but was soon told, after which rapper Diddy reportedly said, "Hey prince of France, come and see me."

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