“Dolores de Cospedal and her husband, Ignacio López del Hierro, are not just a married couple, they are a public limited company.” The definition is provided at the highest political level in Castilla-La Mancha to explain the meaning of the relationship between the former secretary general of the PP and her husband, a former member of several boards of directors of important companies for decades. After the judicial indictment of Cospedal and López del Hierro this week, just when they were to appear in the Kitchen committee of Congress to clarify their links with the controversial retired commissioner José Manuel Villarejo, the question arose as to why Mariano Rajoy had really signed her in the party in 2008 and how his strange relationship with the policeman who exercised his dark role with up to 10 interior ministers from both the PSOE and the PP was forged. The answer is the reconstruction of the profile of a politician with training as a State lawyer.
Until she got caught up in the political virus, Cospedal’s career is that of a woman, a middle-class daughter, with a UCD militant father who is enthusiastic about Operation Roca, and who combined without contradictions being, on the one hand, Miss Feria de Albacete with brilliantly taking off a very tough opposition.
In 1996, when José María Aznar ousted Felipe González and managed to govern, he appointed his alter ego Javier Arenas Minister of Labor and Social Affairs. The merger of these two departments causes the Cospedal State lawyer to lose a position, because there is only one undersecretary and Marino Díaz Guerra assumes it. Arenas then offers him a place in his cabinet. Soon after, she seeks a radical change in her life with her transfer to the labor office in Washington. When she returns, with the PP still in power, she works in relevant functions for ministers such as Manuel Pimentel, Jesús Posada or Ángel Acebes, with whom she has to manage the chaos of the jihadist attacks of March 11, 2004 as undersecretary of the Interior. The former president of Madrid, Esperanza Aguirre, then signed her as Minister of Transport and in 2006 was placed on the map of the party when she first made the jump to candidate for the Community of Castilla-La Mancha. Two years later, in the conflictive national congress in Valencia, she is promoted by Mariano Rajoy himself, without knowing her too much, to the general secretary of the PP, the second office, and of much command, in the party.
Various party sources point out that Rajoy was looking for a woman, well prepared, with character and very hard-working for the general secretary. Before he had offered the position again to his friend Arenas, who rejected it because he could not reconcile it with the candidacy for the presidency of Andalusia. In favor of Cospedal, according to different sources, they mediated with Rajoy, the veteran politician from Toledo, Arturo García Tizón, also a State lawyer; Francisco Villar, of the leader’s maximum confidence, and Arenas himself, from whom he would end up distancing himself a lot.
Cospedal was promoted to the general secretary of the PP in the summer of 2008 and a few months later, in February 2009, Judge Baltasar Garzón uncovered the Gürtel case, which disrupted his entire mandate and is still pursuing him politically and judicially. Cospedal never got along with having suddenly become the media parapet of Rajoy and, even less, of Luis Bárcenas, the then national treasurer of the party, a character he hated since he ran into him the first time he appeared almost without warning in his office. He did not like anything about Bárcenas, nor his personal manner, which he understood as misogynistic and despotic, nor his professional management, which he distrusted as dark. In those months, the confrontations were almost daily. Cospedal went so far as to withdraw some signature powers from Bárcenas, who had hitherto been at ease.
At that time, Gürtel’s significance is still not fully revealed, despite its seriousness, and Bárcenas dares to complain to Rajoy that his party boss leaks information to related media to harm him. Sources from the PP leadership recall that Bárcenas even mentioned to Rajoy that the party had contributed up to 200,000 euros, later investigated as coming from box b, for an electoral campaign in Castilla-La Mancha. The relationship festers to the max. Cospedal does not feel fully supported by the president, he lets him know and even resigns several times. Rajoy does not accept it, he listens and does nothing. The strategy, as always, is defensive. But the case was getting more and more complicated. The leader appears wrapped in all his dome and maintains that there is a plot against the PP.
On February 28, 2013, with Bárcenas in the pillory on all fronts and Cospedal increasingly disappeared, the secretary general made one of the most convoluted statements in the country’s political history. He defends the dismissal “deferred but in simulation of what was previously a remuneration” of Bárcenas. He does not ask for advice for that appearance in the leadership of the PP because in the party he hardly trusts anyone. He knows that the other spokespersons, vice-secretaries and heads of organization (Arenas, Ana Mato, Esteban González Pons, Juan Carlos Vera, Carlos Floriano) enjoy direct dialogue with the big boss and that bothers him.
In those years of suffering, an intimate Canarian friend invited Cospedal to a wedding with a nephew of the former popular mayor of Madrid, José María Álvarez del Manzano, and his cousin, Ignacio López del Hierro. As López del Hierro himself confessed this week in his appearance before the Kitchen committee of Congress, his political career is not linked to the PP. At the age of 27, he was the civil governor of Toledo in the Transition with the UCD. And so he met other colleagues, such as Pedro Ñuñez Morgades, later a deputy and government delegate in Madrid with the PP. Morgades introduces López del Hierro to the world of El Verde, the bar of compadreos for many leaders of the PP along with Génova 13, where the headquarters of the political formation is located.
When López del Hierro and Cospedal started their relationship, and married in 2009, the veteran ex-politician was already a contact person. He has passed through the boards of directors of half a dozen important companies and, from his time as governor, provides the connection with well-known commissioners. It is not just Villarejo. Also Andrés Gómez Gordo, whom Cospedal took from the environment of Francisco Granados, former Minister of Transport of Madrid, and his “gestapillo” to Castilla-La Mancha as Director of Documentation and Analysis, 20 meters from his office in the Fuensalida palace . Gómez Gordo was the one who, in 2013, put the Kitchen plot in contact with Sergio Ríos, Bárcenas’ driver, to turn him into a confidante.
López del Hierro participated in those years with Cospedal in secret meetings recorded in the noble floor of Génova 13 with Villarejo so that he could update them on his investigations about Bárcenas. On Wednesday, before Congress, López del Hierro appeared for two and a half hours, and barely answered anything. Cospedal was never questioned, but was upset by the rudeness of the Chamber, which did not notify her in a timely manner that her appearance had been called off. Later, the couple got together and they went for a walk together on the Calle de Alcalá.