Law committee clashes over new primary funding bill

The Knesset Law Committee is due next week to approve for final reading a bill that would transfer the auditing of primary campaign contributions and spending from the political parties to the state comptroller. But the preparation of the bill in the committee turned into a shouting match between the chairman, Michael Eitan, and the head of the Labor Party delegation to the Central Elections Committee, Amnon Lorch. Eitan accused Lorch of trying to sabotage the bill by dragging out the discussions on its details, when in fact he was against the legislation altogether. Eitan eventually ordered Lorch to leave the meeting. Committee member Yuli Tamir (Labor) left with Lorch. The dispute between Eitan and Labor was over the provision that the bill would come into effect as soon as it is passed, in the middle of the primary campaign which is already under way. Many MKs started their campaign long ago in accordance with the provisions of the current law and may therefore not be able to enjoy the benefits of the new legislation. On the other hand, they will not be penalized for various actions which will be prohibited to candidates who start their campaign after the law is passed. According to the new legislation, each candidate will be allowed to receive in contributions, and to spend, up to NIS 273,556 for the campaign. If the auditing body of the party estimates that the number of primary voters will exceed 150,000, it may allow candidates to spend NIS 547,134. Lorch told The Jerusalem Post these sums were much higher than the ones currently in effect and that the only candidates who could reach them would be the rich and/or the corrupt. He said he did not oppose the provision of the new law calling for the transfer of auditing responsibilities to the state comptroller. However, he said he wanted to see an amended version of the current proposal go into effect in the primaries for the election after this coming one on March 28.
More about:Knesset, Yuli Tamir