Vote-buying probe against MK Slomiansky closed

Vote-buying probe against MK Slomiansky closed

Jewish Home parliamentarian was suspected of fraud after placing high on party's list in November's primaries

Lazar Berman is a former breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Jewish Party leader Naftali Bennett with party member Nissan Slomiansky in February 2013. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Jewish Party leader Naftali Bennett with party member Nissan Slomiansky in February 2013. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The investigation against MK Nissan Slomiansky (Jewish Home party) on suspicion of vote-buying, reportedly initiated by party head Naftali Bennett, has been closed. The National Unit for Fraud Investigation, known as Lahav 433, decided that the evidence against him was insufficient to continue the probe. 

Slomiansky, currently chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee and an ordained rabbi, was suspected of buying thousands of votes in order to place first in the primary elections held by the right-wing Jewish Home party in November. The allegations came to light in March when a party activist was recorded telling a private investigator that Slomiansky had delivered to him large sums of cash inside cigarette cartons and instructed him to buy votes.

He has 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.

Besides Slomiansky, the police questioned four other people regarding possible involvement in the buying of votes. According to Channel 2, one of those questioned had made a failed attempt to enter the Knesset on the right-wing party’s list.

The scandal was an early embarrassment for the Jewish Home party, forcing Bennett to address the issue publicly.

People joining parties for money and voting according to the will of their sponsors “is illegal and corrupts parties,” Bennett said at the time.

Primary elections are supposed to express the will of a party’s constituency, “but when votes are bought it gives enormous power to a small number of people,” he said. ”This is one of the problems with the primaries system. I’m sorry it reached us.”

Slomiansky ran against 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 success surprised party members and pundits alike. He entered the Knesset behind only Bennett and veteran legislator Uri Ariel, whose Hatkuma party merged with the Jewish Home, bumping Slomiansky to number three on a joint list.

Yifa Yaakov contributed to this report. 

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