Kadima MKs gang up on Livni to pinpoint her shortcomings

MKs demand greater transparency on party spending, complain budget for 2009 has still not been passed.

Livni shoot myself in the head 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
Livni shoot myself in the head 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
The Kadima faction's pre-Rosh Hashana gathering at the Knesset on Wednesday turned out to be not very festive, as party head Tzipi Livni endured rare criticism from someone other than her number two in the party, MK Shaul Mofaz. Mofaz was joined in criticizing Livni's management of the party by MKs Avi Dichter, Ze'ev Boim, and Gideon Ezra. The main issues of dissent were the handling of the party's finances and a change to the party's constitution that was enabled by temporarily removing regional council heads from Kadima's governing council. Sixteen MKs came to a meeting of Kadima's house committee on Thursday during which party spendings were discussed. The MKs demanded greater transparency and complained that the budget for 2009 had still not been passed in September. "If she doesn't start considering the others in the party and stop thinking Kadima can be a one-woman show, she is going to have a real problem," a Kadima MK who supports Livni said Thursday night. According to a plan discussed at the committee meeting, one third of the party's NIS 21 million budget would go toward Kadima's NIS 35m. debt, which will be paid back over five years. Kadima's debt is much lower than Labor's and Likud's, but a year ago the party enjoyed a budget surplus. A Kadima spokesman said the party's financial woes predated Livni's chairmanship of the party, as the debt came from the municipal elections, which took place before Livni took over as faction leader. Kadima intended to spend NIS 16m. on the races, but instead ended up spending NIS 34m. in an effort to give itself a boost for the general elections. Kadima MKs demanded to see a report given to the state comptroller over how the money was spent. They complained about millions lost in races in Haifa, Beersheba and Rishon Lezion, and said that the proximity of the municipal race to the party's primary encouraged MKs in charge of allocating funds to spend freely in an effort to improve their standing. The second issue concerning the MKs was the fate of nine regional council heads, who were disqualified by the party's legal adviser from being included in Kadima's governing council during a vote on technical changes to the party's constitution. Removing them from the council allowed Livni to obtain the necessary majority to pass a measure that enables her to extend the time limit for passing future votes. The faction voted to reinstate the council heads on Wednesday. But MKs said the constitutional change would require another vote. "The council heads were always considered part of the Kadima council," Dichter said. "It was unfair to remove them for political reasons after they had already participated in the vote." Livni responded by accusing her critics of exaggerating the issue for political reasons. She said she trusted the ruling of the party's legal adviser.