Meretz Head Fined for Exceeding Funding Limit After Campaign Scandal

Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg secretly consulted a strategist who previously worked for the far right encountering both political and legal backlash

Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg speaks in the Knesset, December 26, 2018.
Olivier Fitoussi

Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg told the state comptroller that a consultation she received for free from political strategist Moshe Klughaft was worth 8000 shekels ($2,178).

Zandberg had concealed the fact that she had used Klughaft, who was associated in the past with campaigns against the left, when she ran for chairwoman of Mererevtz.

She also denied receiving his help when asked by the media. State Comptroller Joseph Shapira fined Zandberg 2,000 shekels on Wednesday for exceeding permissible campaign funding by 12,000 shekels.

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She responded: “A small excess less than three percent was dealt with and this is all in all a successful conclusion to the campaign.” Zandberg had apologized in a video when the scandal came out. 

During her campaign for the primaries, Zandberg met on several occasions with Klughaft, but tried to keep the contacts secret.

Klughaft’s revelation put newly elected Meretz party leader Tamar Zandberg in a difficult position both politically and legally. On the one hand, she was exposed as lying and as resorting to the advice of a strategist who previously worked for Meretz’s political arch-rivals, such as Naftali Bennett’s Habayit Hayehudi.

From the legal angle, Zandberg was exposed as having received strategic advice from a consultant without disclosing it to the state State Comptroller.

Alongside working on the campaign of Bennett, Klughaft also created aggressive campaigns against Israeli human rights groups and left-wing activists close to Meretz.

His work includes a video published by Im Tirtzu that accused activists from the New Israel Fund and other left-wing groups of acting as agents for foreign governments.