Knesset Member Eliahu Gabbay (National Union-National Religious Party) set a record in 2008 – for the most funds spent on "voter relations," a Knesset report revealed Sunday.
Each Knesset member has a pre-approved annual budget of NIS 49,000 (about $11,740) for the sake of voter relations. MKs who lease an office are entitled to an increased, NIS 68,000 ($16,282) budget, which has to include their rent.
Under the "voter relations' clause, MKs can include a menagerie of expenses the likes of renting an office, buying office equipment, computers, newspapers and books; registering to phone and internet services, ordering reprints of materials etc.
MK Gabbay, who topped the list, spent NIS 93,270 (about $22,350) of the taxpayers' money in order to stay in tuned with his public; United Arab List-Ta'al Chairman Ibrahim Sarsur came in a close second with NIS 89,768 ($21,510) and former Meretz MK Ran Cohen, who spent 77,972 ($18,680), was ranked third most spendthrift.
The details of Gabbay's expenditures included NIS 15,640 ($3,746) for a laptop, reprinting material and buying NIS 6,554 ($1570) worth of "refreshments." His office said that "MK Gabbay's voter relations expenses for 2008 included expenses spent in 2007 as well, which were only claimed in 2008 and approved according to the codex."
MK Sarsur's spending focused on reprints and xeroxing (NIS 47,454 or $11,370), while MK Cohen's biggest expenditure was his cell phone bills, amounting to 16,103 ($3,860).
The Knesset's report also listed the House's other big spenders:
- Knesset Member Ronit Tirosh (Kadima) spent NIS 2,399 (approx. $574) on a GPS.
- Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu bought NIS 15,000 ($3,600) worth of refreshments.
- Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni listed NIS 30,000 ($7,190) as "polling expenses."
- Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman also spent NIS 38,000 ($9,100) on polls.
- MK Gideon Sa'ar, chairman of the Likud faction, spent NIS 37,842 ($9,060) on a website design.
- MK David Tal (Kadima) bought a NIS 2,400 ($575) digital camera.
- Yisrael Beiteinu's Sofa Landver opted not to buy a digital camera, listing a "professional photo shoot" worth NIS 4,000 ($960) on her expenses, instead.
- Kadima's MK Marina Solodkin needed NIS 42,000 (about $10,000) worth of "secretarial services."
- MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud) organized a NIS 23,000 ($5,510) conference.
- MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu) purchased NIS 18,677 ($4,470) worth of "media clippings."
- Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit spent NIS 27,000 ($6,470) on postal services.
- Labor's MK
Amir Peretz spent NIS 8,000 ($1,917) on cleaning services for his office.
According to the data, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was the only parliamentarian to spend no funds whatsoever on voter relations.