(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Embattled Accountant-General Yaron Zelekha may be smiling today, after Ya'akov Borovsky, another outspoken corruption watchdog, managed to fend off charges leveled against him.
Both Borovsky and Zelekha have recently found themselves facing broadside attacks, and both have claimed that the allegations against them are based solely upon the desire of their enemies to silence their probes of high-level government officials.
But what is particularly interesting in Borovsky's case is that the list of his accusers and the list of those he previously pilloried seems to overlap - rather closely.
In October, as the Zeiler Commission picked up where it left off months earlier in examining the involvement of the Perinian crime family in police investigations in the Southern District, Borovsky's name was mentioned as the source of an unpleasant rumor.
Insp.-Gen. Moshe Karadi opened his testimony by blasting what he termed as "malicious, crude gossip," citing a letter in which Cmdr. Meir Gilboa quoted Borovsky. The letter, which was submitted to the Zeiler Commission, claimed that campaign donations had brought about the appointment of Yoram Levy to the sensitive position of commander of the Southern District's Central Investigative Unit (CIU).
According to the scenario presented, the Perinians served as "vote contractors" who enlisted voters to support the Likud Party, to which both Omri Sharon and Tzahi Hanegbi belonged at the time. The same family, Borovsky alleged, contacted Karadi - at the time Southern District police chief - through Sharon and Hanegbi, and requested that he appoint Levy to the position. Levy, according to allegations, had a history of trading information for bribes from the Perinians. In exchange for Levy's appointment, the allegation continues, Hanegbi - then internal security minister - promised to promote Karadi to the Israel Police's top position.
Following that announcement, Borovsky immediately became the focus of the rumor mill. After Karadi's comment, Hanegbi was quick to add to the crossfire, blasting the senior adviser to State Comptroller Micha Lindenstraus as "a liar and corrupt" and calling on him to either publicly refute his claims or agree to testify before the Zeiler Commission as to their veracity. Borovsky did neither. Sharon, however, remained silent.
But then, six weeks later, Borovsky found himself at the opposite end of corruption allegations. Allegations, reports of which aired first on Channel 1, claimed that Borovsky tried to gain then-prime minister Ariel Sharon's support to become the nation's police chief in exchange for sandbagging the investigation against Sharon.
The report said that a Likud Central Committee member, Solomon Karubi, was asked to go to the Zebulun Police Station, where he met with Borovsky and then-Amakim Subdistrict head David Siso.
At that meeting, Karubi claimed, he was requested to intercede between Borovsky and Omri Sharon, as a result of which the investigation into the Sharon family would be slowed or even stopped in exchange for the then-prime minister's support for Borovsky to become inspector general.
But at a later meeting between Karubi and Omri Sharon in a tony Tel Aviv caf , Sharon allegedly told Karubi: "The old guy [Ariel Sharon] doesn't get involved with these things. Tzahi picked whoever he has picked," referring to then-internal security minister Tzahi Hanegbi's selection of Moshe Karadi for the top police position.
Omri Sharon later backed up Karubi's claims, but has never offered any public comment with regard to the matter.
On Tuesday, the State Attorney's Office decided there was insufficient evidence to back up claims that Borovsky violated the public trust, and that Borovsky was simply not guilty of offering bribes. In other words, in the battle of tales of corruption, Karubi's story was at best improvable and at worst untrue.
If Karubi's story is untrue, then he was simply lying. And the obvious question, of course, is why. And why were his statements (allegedly, away from the public eye) backed up by Omri Sharon? The answer is a bit like a game of Clue: which of Borovsky's many enemies would not have an interest in discrediting the so-called anti-corruption czar?
The comptroller's office recently ran afoul of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office, and also disclosed that they had been investigating alleged irregularities in police appointments. Was it Mr. Blue in the police or Mr. Gray in the government? Or any one of a cast of characters who would all like to see the probes ended quickly and quietly.
And in the end, even Borovsky's apparent victory Tuesday against his accusers may be only partial.
Although the cases against him are now closed, it has yet to be seen whether he will be able to return to his position at the State Comptroller's Office.
Even if he can, the ambiguous "lack of evidence" clause will likely punch a hole in his spit-and-polish image as an upstanding public servant. And so, it seems, Borovsky's enemies have managed to deal a blow - if not a fatal one - against the clean image of the State Comptroller's Office's anti-corruption task force.
Zelekha can stop smiling now. Whether or not Borovsky was, in fact, guilty, or whether or not Sharon lied in claiming that Borovsky attempted to bribe him, the fact remains that once again the real losers are the public for whom the resolution to the latest scandal does not go far in rebuilding public trust in a government that has been torn by scandal and corruption.