I can't protect all whistle-blowers, Lindenstrauss says
State Comptroller argued that elected officials have the means to counter efforts to harm them such as direct access to the media or the ability to exert political pressure.
In a precedent-setting decision last week, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss said he does not have the right by law to grant protection to non-salaried elected officials who expose corruption.
Lindenstrauss argued that elected officials have the means to counter efforts to harm them such as direct access to the media or the ability to exert political pressure.
The decision followed a request by the acting deputy mayor of Kalansua, Abed al-Karim Jamal. The non-salaried official complained to the police and the Interior Ministry about corruption at his municipality, including nepotism and the improper awarding of contracts.
Jamal says that after he exposed the wrongdoing, the city's mayor, Mahmoud Hadija, stripped him of his authority and began moves to remove him from the City Council.
Earlier this year Jamal asked the state comptroller to issue a warrant protecting whistle-blowers so their standing in municipalities would not suffer.
But Lindenstrauss has rejected the request. He said a literal interpretation of the Law on the State Comptroller does not grant him the right to issue such warrants unless the people involved are employees of institutions supervised by the comptroller's office. He said the law was not designed to protect anyone who exposes corruption.
"It should be remembered that while a civil servant does not necessarily have the tools or the ability to deal with harassment by his employer, elected officials have other means for effective defense such as easier access to the media or the application of political pressure that may even result in a coalition crisis," Lindenstrauss wrote.
He said differences between two political rivals will eventually be brought before the voters, "who will decide on both the decisions of the mayor to remove his deputy and the conduct of the deputy mayor."
Jamal is still officially acting deputy mayor, and was surprised to hear about the comptroller's decision when Haaretz asked him to comment.
He said he has still not received an official response, but if the news is true he considers it a slap in the face to public servants who strive for clean administration.
Referring to Lindenstrauss' decision, he said "the message in such a stance is that one should keep silent and close his eyes when corruption is evident."
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