- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 5, 2009

ROME (Reuters) | Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s daughter has said she was amazed by the attention her father lavished on a teenage model, in a rare criticism of the scandal-hit leader by one of his children.

Barbara Berlusconi, 25, also told Vanity Fair that politicians ought to uphold the values they preach publicly in their private lives - in contrast to Mr. Berlusconi’s allies, who say his personal life has no bearing on his public role.

Mr. Berlusconi, 72, has denied an improper relationship with Noemi Letizia after showing up at her 18th birthday party with a $8,600 necklace gift, prompting his wife, Veronica Lario, to seek a divorce over his womanizing.

When asked what she thought of the attentions her father had shown toward Miss Letizia, Miss Berlusconi said: “I was shocked. It’s something that has never been part of my life.”

“I have never frequented elderly men. I have no experience of such psychological ties,” she told the magazine.

Since the scandal, Mr. Berlusconi has also been fending off accusations of cavorting with escorts who were paid to attend his parties. He denies paying for sex, but says he is “not a saint.”

Recordings of purported conversations between Mr. Berlusconi and a prostitute have been released by the left-leaning magazine L’Espresso on its Web site.

Mr. Berlusconi’s lawyer has disputed the veracity of the tapes, which include intimate details, according to the Associated Press.

“Political representatives that are called to govern well, make society prosper, are also held to safeguard the values they express, possibly raise them,” Miss Berlusconi told Vanity Fair.

“So I don’t believe a politician can allow a distinction between his public and private life.”

Her comments are another dent to Mr. Berlusconi’s image, with polls showing the summer of scandals has helped push down his popularity. But he still enjoys 49 percent approval ratings and a comfortable majority in both houses of parliament.

“What doesn’t show on the outside is that their pain is deep and it touches both of them,” Miss Berlusconi said of her parents.

Miss Berlusconi is one of three children Mr. Berlusconi has with Mrs. Lario. Miss Berlusconi is a director of Fininvest, the holding company for Mr. Berlusconi’s media empire. His two children from his first marriage hold prominent positions in his business empire. They rarely speak publicly, but defended their father when the scandal first exploded in May.

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