Having It Both Ways

Dan Halutz is having it both ways. Knowing fund-raising limitations on public servants and political candidates do not apply to him during his "cooling-off period," he took the initiative to give the state comptroller his list of donors and the amounts they donated to his fledgling political career.

With that, the former army chief was showing just how "clean" and transparent he is - after all, the law doesn't obligate him to report donations to the comptroller, since he has yet to throw his lot in with any political party.

And still, he is raising money in anticipation of filling one of the deerskin chairs in the Knesset plenum, even though the law prohibits him from doing so.

The problem gets worse when you look at the donations themselves. Candidates in primary elections may raise up to NIS 10,000 from each donor. Halutz raised NIS 373,000 from a single donor, U.S. businessman Jeffrey Silverman. The rest came from a private company.

A 1992 law on political parties forbids donations from any source other than private individuals, and sets limits on the total donations allowed. That law, however, doesn't apply to Halutz, as he is not yet an active member of a political party.

Since he is still in his cooling-off period after having left the army, Halutz must be told he cannot raise money. This activity proves he is no longer cooling anything off, but merely revving the engine of a future political career.

Now that the State Prosecutor's Office has posted the identities of Halutz's donors on its website, the legality of the donations must be examined. Should the money be discovered to have been raised illegally, it will have to be returned.

Halutz has to halt this activity until his cooling-off period is over, and he has announced his candidacy for a certain party. Otherwise, he will find himself breaking the law even before he officially enters the plenum as a lawmaker.