Watchdog Group Urges Livni to Oust Omri Sharon From Her Campaign Team

Movement for Quality Government demands Kadima chairwoman distance herself from Sharon and from other senior figures in Kadima convicted of crimes in recent years.

The Movement for Quality Government on Wednesday slammed Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni for bringing Omri Sharon, who served a prison term for campaign finance violations and other crimes, into her reelection campaign.

In a letter sent to Livni on Wednesday, the group demanded that she distance herself from Sharon and from other senior figures in Kadima, including former ministers Tzachi Hanegbi and Haim Ramon, who have been convicted of crimes in recent years but continue to be active in the party.

Omri Sharon
Motti Kimche

Sharon, who is the son of Kadima founder and former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, was convicted of falsifying corporate documents, violating campaign finance laws and giving false testimony to the state comptroller about his receipt of contributions in excess of the amount allowable by law during his father's 1999 campaign for leadership of the Likud (which the elder Sharon headed before founding Kadima ).

"Omri will pitch in and roll up his sleeves here in campaign headquarters, contributing his skills and abilities to ensure that Kadima under my leadership remains an alternative to [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and his government," Livni said at a meeting with party activists.

Ramon was convicted of forcibly kissing a female soldier, while Hanegbi was convicted of perjury.

The Movement for Quality Government said that while the men had served their sentences, it believed they were no longer fit to serve the public. "In the past, that seemed to be your understanding as well," its letter to Livni said.

The letter also mentioned other criminal affairs involving Kadima members that it said had tainted the party's clean image: the investigation now underway against party accountant Itzik Hadad for suspected misappropriation of party funds, and the conviction and incarceration of former Finance Minister Abraham Hirchson for embezzling funds from the labor federation Histadrut Ovdim Leumit.

"Recently, it seems that as Kadima's chairwoman, you have surrounded yourself with people with criminal backgrounds," the letter stated, urging Livni to remove those whose reputations are "stained" from the party.

Livni's campaign headquarters responded that "Livni has full faith in the law enforcement system and its decisions. All the people in question paid their debt to society and want to come back and contribute to the State of Israel, as they contributed for many years."