FILE - In this May 11, 2017 file photo, Richard Ferrand, attends a press conference in Paris. French lawmakers have elected a close political ally of President Emmanuel Macron, Richard Ferrand, to head France’s lower house of Parliament. (Eric Feferberg/ pool photo via AP) (Associated Press)

PARIS — French lawmakers have elected a close political ally of President Emmanuel Macron to head France’s lower house of Parliament.

Richard Ferrand replaces Francois de Rugy as president of the National Assembly. Macron named Rugy as his environment minister last week.

The 56-year-old Ferrand comfortably won Wednesday’s ballot by lawmakers, despite facing a judicial investigation for alleged conflict of interest.

His 254 votes were more than the four other candidates combined.

The judicial probe, formally opened in January, followed media reports about Ferrand’s past business practices as head of a Brittany insurance company.

Ferrand denies doing anything illegal.

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