Comptroller probes Regev alleged conflict of interest after NGO request

Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev was allegedly heard on tape coordinating a story over giving NIS 2.5 m. contract to advertiser she knew.

Likud MK Miri Regev (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Likud MK Miri Regev
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
State Comptroller Joseph Shapira initiated a probe of Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev on Monday relating to an alleged conflict of interest in which she gave a NIS 2.5 million advertising contract to a marketer she knew without holding a public bidding process.
Shapira gave Regev seven days to respond to the allegations as to why she transferred substantial funds without the required bidding process.
Earlier Monday, an NGO asked Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein to probe Regev regarding the same allegations.
Channel 10 reported on Monday night that the police had passed on information to Weinstein to make a decision on the issue, but a spokesperson for Weinstein denied any knowledge of his having received such information.
The NGO, the Movement for the Quality of Government in Israel, also slammed Regev’s actions as grave in light of a recording presented by Channel 10 on Sunday night in which she is heard seemingly coordinating a cover story with two lawyers and her spokesman for explaining the decision.
According to the letter and the recording, Regev gave the contract to advertiser Rami Yehoshua of Yehoshua TBWA for a public campaign called “No-Worries August” that saw her ministry offer free activities across the country because she knew him.
The recordings present Regev as worried as to how to defend her decision legally if she faced conflict of interest allegations and even rejecting an initial explanation by one lawyer as a “bad answer” that does not justify why she gave the contract to Yehoshua.
Reports have not explained Regev’s connection to Yehoshua and she denies that they had any prior connection or that there was a conflict of interest.
The minister lashed out at Channel 10 for “tarring my name” and called the report “defamatory.”
“My lawyer is working... on a letter to Channel 10 with a request to retract the story, and if not, I will file a lawsuit for defamation,” she said.
Regev added that the contract she granted passed through all the necessary legal approvals and explained some of the aspects of her defensive conversation, which sounded like coordinating a cover story as preparation for questions expected from the press. MK Miki Rosenthal (Zionist Union) called for the incident to be investigated, saying that “in a civilized country, Miri Regev would be exiled from public life.”
Lahav Harkov contributed to this story