Police to probe Kadima membership drive

Watchdog group reveals many Kadima members had no idea they'd been registered with party.

kadima 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
kadima 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The National Fraud Unit will examine allegations of improprieties in the Kadima Party's membership drive, the head of the unit, Lt.-Cmdr. Shlomi Ayalon, revealed in a letter to the Movement for Quality Government on Monday. The organization asked the police to look into the drive following a Channel 10 report Friday night in which many Kadima members complained that they were unaware that people had registered them with the party. Kadima's membership drive, which is expected to end at the end of July, could determine who will be elected the party's chairman and candidate for prime minister. Kadima leadership candidate Tzipi Livni complained about the charges revealed in the report at a meeting of the Kadima faction. Sitting next to her main competitor, Shaul Mofaz, she indirectly accused him of complicity in the alleged wrongdoing. "Some of us came from parties that had intolerable episodes with their membership drives," Livni said. "We cannot allow this to happen in Kadima. It is critical for the party or its comptroller to investigate this. The decision has to come from us and not from outside, because the party's cleanliness has to be important to everyone here." Livni made the request before the police announced the probe. A Kadima spokesman announced late Monday that the party's comptroller would also investigate the drive. "Kadima welcomes any probe on this issue and will cooperate fully," the spokesman said. "We view gravely any attempt to misuse the drive." The faction voted to endorse a deal reached Wednesday between Labor and Kadima representatives that requires Kadima to begin the process of initiating a party primary. The Kadima council will meet July 10 to set a date for the race. Several ideas have been raised in the party over the last few days that would allow Olmert to remain prime minister despite the primary. Kadima MK Otniel Schneller raised a proposal at the meeting for Kadima to elect a leader in September and hold another primary ahead of the next general election. "It could be that whoever is elected now won't prove to be the most suitable, so must we be forced to run under them?" Schneller asked. Olmert's associates have discussed a different proposal whereby whoever comes in second in the September race would become deputy party chairman. That way if Olmert would run and win, there would be a smooth transfer of power to his deputy without additional primaries if a criminal investigation forced him to quit. Kadima council chairman Meir Nitzan has raised a third idea whereby the victor in the September race would automatically become Olmert's deputy in the government and the party until the next general election. Vice Premier Haim Ramon told the faction on Monday that if the victor of the race cannot form a new government, Olmert should be allowed to remain prime minister.