Bill to tighten restrictions on campaign funding passes first reading

A bill aimed at tightening restrictions on election campaign funding was approved for second and third readings in the plenum on Monday by the Knesset Law Committee. It was initiated by committee chairman Menahem Ben-Sasson (Kadima) and Ophir Pines (Labor) and was meant to halt violations of the current law, which, the sponsors said, has lowered the credibility of politicians. According to the bill, there will be limits to the amount of money MKs can raise for elections throughout the entire period between one election and the next, instead of for a period of nine months before an election as is the situation today. Knesset candidates who are chosen for the party's slate by an elective body of less than 50 people will not be able to raise any campaign funds, a provision, which, under present circumstances, would apply to Shas and Yisrael Beitenu. Furthermore, the maximum penalty for violating the law, if passed, would be increased from one to three years in jail.