Recording exposes MK’s alleged vote-buying method

Recording exposes MK’s alleged vote-buying method

Man suspected of buying votes for Jewish Home's Nissan Slomiansky says he received NIS 50,000 hidden in cigarette cartons

Yifa Yaakov is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

MK Nissan Slomiansky of the Jewish Home party. (photo credit: Flash90)
MK Nissan Slomiansky of the Jewish Home party. (photo credit: Flash90)

New recordings released Monday revealed the method whereby MK Nissan Slomiansky allegedly bought thousands of votes in order to place first in the primary elections held by the right-wing Jewish Home party in November. Slomiansky fell under suspicion of election fraud earlier this week.

Slomiansky on Monday night denied all allegations of wrongdoing, insisting he was the victim of unfounded gossip stemming from political rivalries. He noted that he had a lifetime of public service behind him, and had “never been tainted” by any hint of corruption.

In the recording, Nissim Garameh, a private investigator posing as a potential donor, can be heard speaking to party activist Avihai Amarusi, who allegedly used cash to solicit votes for Slomiansky — and whose day job was recruiting new members for Jewish Home. The recording indicates that Amarusi used his position to enlist new members who would vote for Slomiansky in the primaries — for a sizable sum.

The private investigator was sent by a member of the party who wished to probe Slomiansky’s success, Channel 2 reported.

During the conversation between the two, Amarusi can be heard telling Garameh that “the guy with the complicated name” — Slomiansky — delivered to him large amounts of cash hidden inside cigarette cartons.

“Fifty thousand dollars inside two cartons of Marlboro cigarettes,” Amarusi said. Slomiansky delivered the money in person, disguising it as a package from the Duty Free shops, though he used a courier for some of the deliveries, Amarusi said. He said that the personal delivery was necessitated by the impossibility of sneaking such sums into the Knesset, where visitors are subjected to strict security checks.

“I made a deal with him,” said Amarusi. “‘My [Slomiansky’s] people will help you for 250,000 shekels.'” He said that Slomiansky had already paid half of the sum, noting that he had associated with the MK because the latter had access to party funds.

Amarusi explained in detail the method used to buy voters, saying each voter had been paid NIS 1,000 in cash and sent off to vote. He also hinted that the arrangement might be used again in the future.

“Look, the potential isn’t limited to today — he has access to the treasury all the time,” Amarusi told Garameh. He said that 4,000 voters had been bought at a cost of 160,000 shekels ($43,000), which Amarusi said had been paid in full.

Slomiansky ran against far more prominent candidates in the November 13 primaries, such as high-profile secular right-wing activist Ayelet Shaked and veteran party member Uri Orbach, and his high placement surprised party members and pundits alike. He entered the Knesset as number three on the Jewish Home list, behind only party leader Naftali Bennett, who reportedly initiated the investigation of Slomiansky, and veteran legislator Uri Ariel.

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