Otniel Schneller - Tomer Appelbaum - 22032012
Otniel Schneller Photo by Tomer Appelbaum
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MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima ) reported spending NIS 94,436 to stay in contact with constituents in 2011, more than any other Knesset member, according to figures issued Wednesday by the Knesset. On the other end of the spending spectrum was MK Benny Begin (Likud ), who reported shelling out not a single shekel for constituent communications.

The Knesset released only general information about spending, without detailing how many iPads each legislator bought for the purpose or how many of them upgraded their mobile phones.

MKs have been known to use the money earmarked for constituent communications not only for cellphones but also for curtains, mirrors, refrigerators and espresso machines - presumably, in order to provide superlative hospitality when regular citizens come calling - and even on wind protectors for their cars.

Schneller spent about NIS 38,000 of the total on leasing an office.

The sum allotted each MK depends on their seniority and budget rollover from previous years. Defense Minister Ehud Barak had NIS 36,500 at his disposal but spent only NIS 345 of it, on office supplies.

MK Raleb Majadele (Labor ) exceeded his budget slightly. He spent NIS 83,698 in all, including NIS 17,000 to create a website, NIS 10,500 for consulting fees and NIS 10,000 to have photographs printed up.

MK Eli Aflalo (Kadima ), who recently left the Knesset, used the entire sum at his disposal - NIS 54,410 - among other things to produce a self-promotion film for NIS 26,680.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spent NIS 937 for Internet access and NIS 893 on other communication expenses.

Creating and maintaining a private website has become de rigueur for MKs who often spent thousands of shekels on blogs and promotional pages glorifying their legislative activities. Others spent similar sums on refreshments or on aides' salaries.

MK Dalia Itzik (Kadima ) spent about NIS 7,000 on foreign language studies. Deputy Minister of the Development of the Negev and Galilee, Ayoob Kara (Likud ) and MK Faina Kirshenbaum (Yisrael Beiteinu ) paid foreign-language tutors.

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud ) and MK Orly Levi-Abekasis (Yisrael Beiteinu ) both bought digital cameras, a popular purchase among MKs in previous years.

MKs Shelley Yachimovich (Labor ), Nachman Shai (Kadima ) and Tzipi Hotovely (Likud ) all bought pager subscriptions.