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Luckily for him, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss was out of the country on Wednesday when Ya'acov Borovsky, his hand-picked anti-corruption crusader, suspended himself following a six-hour police interrogation on corruption allegations.
Lindenstrauss' performance since his election by the Knesset to the post on May 25, 2005 has been nothing if not controversial. He immediately announced that he would make the fight against corruption his number one priority and created an anti-corruption unit in the State Comptroller's Office headed by Borovsky, the former Northern District police commander.
Lindenstrauss' tactics were controversial because he investigated current issues and published reports in "real time" and used the media as an "enforcement" tool to galvanize public opinion into demanding the corrective measures he thought were necessary.
For the first time in the history of this traditionally most discreet of organizations, the State Comptroller's Office became wide open to the public. The names of Lindenstrauss and Borovsky were synonymous with this policy.
Now, Borovsky is under investigation for doing exactly the kind of thing he was supposed to investigate others for allegedly doing. Borovsky allegedly tried to bribe former prime minister Ariel Sharon to appoint him chief of police by promising to ease up on a criminal investigation being conducted against him. A senior police official who was close to Borovsky allegedly made the offer in his presence to Solomon Karubi, a Likud Central Committee member who was close to the prime minister's son, Omri.
An official in the State Comptroller's Office said Thursday it was too early to say whether Borovsky's suspension would lead to changes in the activities of the State Comptroller's Office. But it will obviously embarrass Lindenstrauss and delight his foes.
Of course, Borovsky has not been indicted, so there is not much Lindenstrauss could do even if he wanted to. The investigations under way will continue. The long run may depend, in part, on Borovsky's fate.
Even if the allegations against Borovsky turn out to be true - the police allegedly maintain that Karubi passed three lie detector tests - Lindenstrauss may be too committed and too strongly identified with the anti-corruption campaign he instituted to back away from it.
Until now, at least, the controversy and the hostility that he has aroused have not deterred him. On November 2, five senior academics, including former Education Minister Amnon Rubinstein, published a newspaper ad accusing him of disrupting government procedures by his conduct. He has also been criticized by two of his predecessors, Eliezer Goldberg and Miriam Ben-Porat, who accused him of stepping into the public fray instead of remaining above it.
Lindenstrauss dismissed the allegations.
"We are at the center of the battle for proper behavior in government and this is our duty according to the law," he told the Knesset State Audit Committee a few days after the ad was published. "Preventing injury to honest government is at the heart of our work."
On the other hand, it should be added that after bursting onto the scene a year-and-a-half ago, Lindenstrauss has been much quieter in the past few months and appears to have taken the criticism to heart. He makes fewer appearances and statements and is hardly ever interviewed. As important as these changes have been, they are a matter of style more than content. There has been no indication that he will drop his campaign.