Watchdog Report on Halutz's Campaign Fund Drive Due Soon

Former IDF chief of staff still has not revealed which party he will join.

State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss is looking into Dan Halutz's fund-raising for his political campaign and will publish his report soon, the comptroller's office said yesterday.

Halutz, a former Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, is reportedly considering joining Kadima.

But he has not yet announced which party he wants to join, despite the comptroller's demand some two months ago that he do so.

This week he advised the comptroller, as required by law, that he has received additional contributions of about NIS 45,000. Altogether, Halutz has raised some NIS 463,000 in the past four months.

"There's nothing the comptroller asked of me that I didn't respond to," Halutz told Haaretz yesterday. "I'm obeying all the rules."

In August, Haaretz reported that Halutz had raised NIS 391,000 in three weeks. Since then, he has continued fund-raising. Some contributions are small sums of a few thousand shekels, usually from former Air Force colleagues. But last week, Halutz told the comptroller of two relatively large contributions - about NIS 18,000 each - from Gregg and Mark Schneider, whose registered address is in Chicago, Illinois.

Halutz's biggest donor is American businessman Jeffrey Silverman, who gave some NIS 373,000. He, like the Schneiders, is active in the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces organization.

In September, Lindenstrauss demanded that Halutz state which party he planned to join. That would make him an official candidate subject to the comptroller's scrutiny.

Until then, Halutz is not subject to the law governing fund-raising by Knesset members and candidates.

This law bars any donor from giving more than NIS 10,000 and requires all donations to come from individuals, not companies or associations.

The Movement for Quality Government, which had urged Lindenstrauss to probe Halutz's fund drive, argues that since the ex-chief of staff has started fund-raising for a political campaign, he should be treated like any other Knesset candidate.