Likud sets fundraising limits for candidates

Likud legal adviser Eitan Haberman issued guidelines for campaign fundraising this week to the three Likud leadership candidates, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and Likud rebel leader Uzi Landau. According to the guidelines, the candidates currently can receive unlimited contributions from anyone except corporations, because the race does not technically begin until two weeks after the Likud central committee sets a date for the primary, which it decided against doing last month. Once the date is set for the primary, which can be held no later than April, each candidate will be limited to raising no more than NIS 36,472 ($7894) per person. The candidates are already limited now in how much they can spend on the campaign - whether from donations or their personal wealth - to a ceiling of NIS 1,821,933 ($394,357). Netanyahu's bureau chief, Yechiel Leiter, called the spending limit "a virtual joke," saying it barely covers a few newspaper ads and a couple of mailings to the 130,000 Likud members. He said the limit gives incumbent candidates an edge because they can use their positions to get out their messages to the voters.