Comptroller Asked to Probe Labor Party Campaign Management

Zionist Camp activists complain of wasted funds, nepotism and consultant’s inflated fees.

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Herzog and Livni at a joint press conference, December 10, 2014.Credit: Moti Milrod

A group of activists from Zionist Camp on Wednesday asked State Comptroller Joseph Shapira to launch an investigation into the conduct of the Labor Party’s campaign and its manager, Shimon Batat. The demand came following a report Tuesday in Haaretz about the employment of people close to the campaign and controversial contracts involving public money.

“The report reveals a harsh picture of the use ostensibly made by figures in the campaign of public money, especially campaign manager, Mr. Shimon Batat, whose name stars in the report again and again,” the activists wrote to Shapira.

According to the report in Haaretz, Batat hired the Peer-Levin consultant company for 1.4 million shekels (approximately $359,000), almost three times the fee of the previous consultant the campaign had used. Other political strategists told Haaretz that this fee is considered comparatively “very high.”

Although the contract had been signed around the time the Knesset dispersed in early December, only on Sunday, close to the time Haaretz published the report, Labor trimmed more than half a million shekels from Peer-Levin’s contract.

A few eyebrows were also raised at Batat’s decision to hire the services of two of his nephews, Ran Danin and Alon Danin, to work for the campaign. The two together receive a monthly salary of more than 20,000 shekels in public money.

A source in Zionist Camp said Batat’s actions “did not look good.”

Against the wishes of senior figures in Zionist Camp, Batat recently hired 21 regional campaign managers, providing each with a rented car, costing from 20,000 shekels to 50,000 shekels for the length of the campaign. All told, the party has rented about 60 vehicles until election day.

Zionist Camp said in response that the activists’ demand was a matter of “foolish statements based on untruth and slander,” adding: “We will be happy to open all relevant books and contracts and act with full transparency. It should be noted that in any case these books will be handed over to the comptroller, as required by law, at the end of the campaign.

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