Barak Under Fire for Ministry's Costly Independence Day Party

State Comptroller report says Barak brought cost of Defense Ministry fete to more than NIS 1.5 million.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak turned his ministry's annual Independence Day celebration into an exorbitant affair in 2009, according to a statement released on Thursday by State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss.

Lindenstrauss' report accuses Barak of having invited 230 percent more guests to the event than is customary, bringing the cost to more than NIS 1.5 million.

This latest finding comes just six months after the comptroller criticized Barak for spending an extraneous budget during his trip to the Paris Fair. Lindenstrauss' report on the Independence Day expenditures found no satisfactory explanation from the Defense Ministry regarding the extra spending.

Lindenstrauss' report concluded that the government had no official guidelines regarding which guests would be invited to the event, and the list of personal invitees was composed entirely by Barak, his wife, and the minister's adviser.

The Defense Ministry has admitted to the accusations leveled against it and has guaranteed that it would mend the mistake in the upcoming Independence Day celebration this May.

The State Control Office has documented the initiations issued between 2004-2009, and concluded that the number of guests have been on a steady rise.

During Shaul Mofaz's term as defense minister in 2004, the ministry invited 3,793 plus-one invitations. 1,821 invitations of those invitations were extended to guests to IDF officers, 1,312 invitation to guests of the ministry, and 660 invitations for Mofaz's personal invitees.

During the only event Amir Peretz held during his time in office in 2007, the defense ministry issued 5,187 plus-one invitations, of which 1,536 were designated to Peretz' private guests.

During Ehud Barak's second year in office in 2009, more than ,063 plus-one invitations were sent out, of which 2,187 were sent to Barak and his wife's personal guests.

The personal invitees included business men, journalists, authors, and Labor Party members.