Super-PACs debate brings opposition infighting to the fore

The “V15 bill” would limit fundraising in an election year by political organizations that are not parties.

November 15, 2016 18:48
2 minute read.
Likud MK Yoav Kisch

Likud MK Yoav Kisch. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Yesh Atid and Zionist Union MKs exchanged barbs in a discussion Tuesday on the “V15 bill” meant to prevent American- style super-PACs.

The parties have been in an ongoing competition for the political center, which came to the fore in a joint meeting of the Knesset House Committee and Knesset Law, Constitution and Justice Committee on the bill, proposed by House Committee chairman Yoav Kisch (Likud), that would limit fund-raising in an election year by political organizations that are not parties.

The bill is nicknamed “V15” after an NGO that campaigned against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2015 using advanced voter-targeting data.

Yesh Atid supports the bill, after MK Yael German (Yesh Atid) negotiated changes to it, but Zionist Union does not.

MK Yoel Hasson (Zionist Union) warned the proposal is dangerous, and said German is helping the Likud “destroy freedom of expression.”

“Netanyahu, through Kisch, is trying to prevent citizens from expressing political opinions and taking part in elections,” Hasson argued.

“There are no other words to describe the shamefulness led by Likud with help from German.”

Hasson also said the bill is unfair in that it does not include Israel Hayom, a free, pro-Netanyahu daily owned by Sheldon Adelson, while, he claimed, limiting citizens who seek to convince their friends to vote a certain way.

German, however, implied that Hasson and MK Revital Swid (Zionist Union) were just looking for excuses to bash her and her party.

The Yesh Atid MK explained that the law is meant to ensure legal campaign financing.

“A private organization or some millionaire can’t come and change the political map just because they have money,” she said.

The current draft of the bill, following the Likud-Yesh Atid negotiations, narrows the definition of a group that is active in an election to mean one that encourages citizens to vote for or not vote for a specific party. In addition, organizations that have a budget of under NIS 200,000 will not fall under the bill’s purview, even if they express an opinion in the media.

The original donation limit of NIS 1,000 per person a month in a year in which an election is not taking place would also be increased to NIS 11,000, and the organizations would not be able to accept anonymous donations or accept funds from non-voters – meaning from donors who are not Israeli citizens.

CHILDREN FROM the Hand-in-Hand Arab-Jewish kindergarten listen during a bilingual story hour along with organizers at the Café Café restaurant in Haifa yesterday. (Raja Zaatry

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