Olmert Used PMO to Further Wife's Art Career

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert used his bureau to promote the artistic career of his wife Aliza, a Haaretz report reveals. The report also says that when the couple were in New York for a private art exhibit by Olmert, their stay at a luxury hotel was paid for by an American association.

In the summer of 2005, Olmert presented an exhibition in New York to which dozens of wealthy and influential people were invited. The invitations were allegedly issued by Rachael Risby Raz, the foreign affairs advisor in Olmert's bureau when he was minister of industry, trade and labor. Invitations for a dinner were printed on official ministry stationary. The Olmerts stayed at the exclusive Peninsula Hotel in a $2,500-a-night suite, for only $500 a night on the say-so of the hotel chain's Jewish billionaire owner Michael Kadoorie. A pro-Israel group headed by a former Likud activist, Sharon Tzur, paid for the room.

The Prime Minister's Office responded that Risby Raz was a personal appointment and could therefore assist Olmert in matters unconnected to the ministry. The PMO also said the invitations to the exhibit were issued by the museum, not by Risby Raz. Olmert's bureau conceded that 10 invitations were issued on official paper, and regretted this error. The PMO said Tzur's group paid for his accommodations because he was asked to meet with various public figures.