An Italian politician has been caught up in an expenses scandal after tax police investigating her party's finances seized a receipt for several sex toys they said were paid for out of taxpayers' money.
Ulli Mair, a local councillor in the northern autonomous province of Bolzano, initially tried to play down allegations of wrongdoing. She said the items purchased at a local sex shop were a present from her party, the rightwing libertarian Freiheitlichen, to a colleague.
"We bought that stuff as a prank birthday present for a colleague," Mair told local website Goinfo. "He is a lively spark and so we thought to give him something racy."
Tax detectives alleged that the party claimed back the €64.92 (£54) spent on a dildo an two other unspecified toys as legitimate expenses.
Police found the May 2012 receipt in Freiheitlichen headquarters in the capital of the German-speaking province in January. No charges have been laid.
A spokesperson for Freiheitlichen, which won 17.9% of the vote in the last local elections on a platform against "illegal immigrants, mosques and social parasites", said it was looking into the matter. The spokesperson later added: "The news didn't match the facts."
The party threatened to take legal action "against those who publish false news with the intent to damage. The party has never misused public funds."
It was the second scandal in a few days to hit the ruling elite in the northern province, also known as South Tyrol. The region has traditionally looked down on the rest of Italy for corruption and bad administration.
Last week it was revealed that provincial authorities had allocated about €90m of taxpayers' money to pay life allowances and gratuities to 130current and former councillors.
South Tyrol, previously part of Austria, was annexed by Italy the end of World War I.