Knesset big spenders: Ariel and Gilon
MKs’ expenditures range from websites to refreshments to amplifiers.
Bayit Yehudi MK Uri Ariel Photo: Marc Israel Sellem/ The Jerusalem Post
MK Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi) spent more than any other MK in 2012, topping the
list by using NIS 90,807 of his “connection with the public” budget, according
to a list made public by the Knesset on Thursday.
MK Ilan Gilon (Meretz)
came in second place, spending NIS 85,489, about half of which went to a
secretary for his extraparliamentary office, while outgoing Defense Minister
Ehud Barak and Minister-without- Portfolio Bennie Begin spent
The budget to “connect with the public” varies, but ministers
receive less than MKs, and those who do not spend their whole budget may roll
over funds to the next year.
Ariel’s expenses cover many of the possible
ways an MK could spend his “connection with the public” budget, including
“office needs” (NIS 7,713), “printing and publishing” (NIS 5,827), “mail and
telegraphs” (NIS 5,448), “light refreshments” (NIS 2,927), websites, social
media, cellphones for himself and his assistants, computers and one of the
biggest expenses for most MKs: an extra-parliamentary office, NIS 22,200 in
Ariel’s spokesman defended the MK, saying all of his
expenses were approved by the Knesset and were used to strengthen his connection
with the public. In addition, he pointed out that Ariel chose a Mazda 2, the
smallest car offered to MKs, explaining that it saves gas money, which also
comes out of the taxpayer’s pocket.
Some MKs managed to use their funds
despite being in the Knesset for only a short time.
Former Kadima MK
Yuval Zellner, for example, was sworn in in May, but managed to spend NIS
28,320. Aleli Admasu became a Likud MK the day before the 18th Knesset was
dissolved, but rented an extra-parliamentary office and spent NIS 6,986 of his
budget. Former Labor MK Yoram Marciano, who was sworn in after the Knesset was
dissolved, did not spend any money.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
spent only NIS 1,003 of his budget on Internet services, out of NIS 36,582,
which he could have possibly spent on his favorite vanilla and pistachio ice
creams under the “light refreshments” item and avoided last week’s “icecream-
Many MKs find creative ways to connect with voters and
spend their budget.
Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, for example, spent
his entire NIS 24,524 budget on a conference. MK Miri Regev (Likud Beytenu)
spent NIS 10,000 on a conference, plus another NIS 1,146 to fly to the
Several MKs ordered polls, such as Nachman Shai (Labor), who spent
NIS 12,000, Meir Sheetrit (Livni Party), who spent NIS 15,000, and Culture and
Sport Minister Limor Livnat, whose poll cost NIS 24,708.
Shelly Yacimovich, who has a strong online presence, especially on Facebook,
spent NIS 20,793 on “website/social networks.”
Others put heavy funding
into “light refreshments,” like former Kadima MK Shai Hermesh – NIS 14,732 – and
former Strong Israel MK Michael Ben- Ari – NIS 8,883.
Beepers were a
popular budgetary item, even though MKs can also buy smartphones and other 21st
MK Avraham Michaeli (Shas) invested NIS 2,124 in
Other interesting expenditures include NIS 850 on a GPS
by MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad), a NIS 2,239 video camera for Home Front Defense
Minister Avi Dichter, NIS 1,954 on amplifiers and speakers for MK Ibrahim
Sarsour (United Arab List-Ta’al) and a NIS 2,310 cable bill for MK Afo Agbaria