Many of the 55,000 new Labor members who joined the party during its recent membership drive had their NIS 50 annual membership fee illegally paid by someone who is not a closely related family member, Channel 2 alleged in an investigation broadcast Wednesday night.

The report included footage of new Labor members admitting that they had not paid the membership fee, which legally must be paid by them personally, their spouse, parents or sibling.

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The Labor Party responded that if a candidate has information on members who joined illegally, they should report it to the party and not to the press, and that illegal membership forms would be disqualified.

The probe followed up on an investigation broadcast Tuesday night, which found that one-fourth of new Labor members came from the Arab and Druse sectors, including many who had no idea that someone had signed them up to the party.

Labor candidates lashed out at the report’s finding that in several Arab or Druse towns the number of new Labor members by far exceeded the number of Labor voters in the town.

Sources close to front-runner candidate MK Amir Peretz said it was totally legitimate that people wanted to join the party to support him or the other five candidates but did not want to vote for a party headed by former Labor chairman Ehud Barak.

Candidate MK Isaac Herzog said he trusted Labor officials to properly examine the registration forms and eliminate any that were illegal.

Candidate MK Shelly Yacimovich boasted that every form she submitted was kosher and that every new member she brought could explain why he joined Labor.

After former Labor chairman Amram Mitzna, who is also running, said that at least 25 percent of the members who joined Labor were fake, venture capitalist Erel Margalit cautioned his fellow candidates against questioning the authenticity of the drive, which he said was overwhelmingly positive.

Party Secretary-General Hilik Bar said files containing information about new Labor members, including credit card and bank account numbers, which were mistakenly leaked to a candidate, were returned on Wednesday.

MK Yariv Levin (Likud) submitted a bill on Wednesday requiring members of any party to have paid membership dues for at least a year to be eligible to vote in an internal race, and for two years in order to run.

He called on the party registrar to investigate allegations that thousands of people were illegally members of multiple parties.