'Knesset parties got illegal donations'

Comptroller fines NU/NRP, Balad, Pensioners for mismanaging accounts.

gil pensioners 298 88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
gil pensioners 298 88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
The Gil Pensioners' Party received illegal campaign contributions and loans and the National Union-NRP and Balad parties did not keep proper financial records, the state comptroller declared on Tuesday in his report on Knesset faction spending and campaign contributions for the elections to the 17th Knesset in March 2006. State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss also found that the Central Elections Committee wasted money during the campaign. According to Lindenstrauss, the Gil Pensioners' Party received seven contributions totaling NIS 10,000 from corporations, in violation of the law. It also received another NIS 2,200 from two donors who were not described as "voters." The party also failed to provide receipts or keep photocopies of the checks it received. He fined the party NIS 40,000, which was to be deducted from the supplementary funding due to the party from the state according to the number of elected MKs, and ordered it to pay the state another NIS 22,000 as well. Lindenstrauss found that the National Union-NRP and Balad parties did not record their expenditures for political gatherings they held during the campaign and that their book-keeping was incomplete. The parties paid more in cash than the guidelines permitted and did not provide the state comptroller with all the required documents. According to the state comptroller, the Central Elections Committee also wasted millions of shekels during the election campaign. He charged that the committee overspent on computer services to the tune of NIS 127,000 by not checking the agreement carefully and by making mistakes in its estimations. Lindenstrauss also found that almost 43 percent of the 790 permanent and temporary employees who worked during the election campaign had at least one relative among the staff. The committee also spent NIS 19 million more during the 2006 campaign than it did during the campaign for the 16th Knesset in 2003. During his presentation of the report to Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik, Lindenstrauss said he regretted that previous state comptrollers had not investigated the Central Elections Committee during the past nine years. "As a result, there are substantial flaws in its operation," he said. Zevulun Orlev (National Union-NRP), chairman of the Knesset State Audit Committee, said the fact that only three of the 19 political parties that submitted its financial records to the state comptroller were found to have violated the election financing regulations was proof of the effectiveness of monitoring them. "The parties know that an eye is watching and recording their actions," he said. "This is effective monitoring that yields results. As for the Central Elections Committee, the results also prove beyond a doubt that irregularities will crop up in a body which feels it is immune to supervision."