Our Objective: Forging a New Era for Political Transparency Through Crowd-funding.
We aim to create and hold elected officials to new and higher standards of accountability through transparency. To meet our goal, we want to trace MK’s (Members of Knesset. Knesset is the Israeli Parliament) formal and informal actions and meetings to assess whether they are serving groups whose interests may be at odds with those of the public. Ultimately, we hope this will lead to greater public demand to instill formal mechanisms to institutionalize transparency and reduce government corruption.
About the Project
With the money raised, a research team will document the full schedules of chosen Knesset Members such as meetings with lobbyists, attendance of events such as influential persons’ celebrations, etc. Only legal means will be used to gather information and there will be no surveillance of MK’s private lives. Our ultimate goal is not a witch-hunt or a reality TV show but to make clear the public’s demand for transparency from our representatives in the Knesset, whose salaries we are paying.
Given limited resources, we will not be able to thoroughly research all 120 MKs and thus will focus only on those who have a history of opposing transparency. MKs will in no way be chosen on the basis of party, personal, religious or groups association (e.g. Jewish, Arab, religious, secular, etc.). Throughout the investigation, MKs’ identity will remain anonymous, so as to pressure all MKs to comply with regulations given the possibility that they are a subject of investigation. All public knowledge we acquire will be published.
While the requested amount is not sufficient to track chosen MKs’ daily actions, it will allow surveillance for a period of 100 days. If we raise more than requested, we will be able to track a greater number of MKs for a greater number of days.
The MKs. where are they?
Why is this Campaign important?
Knesset members and ministers are not ordinary people. They have access to the most valuable resource of all - policy. Every day they shape the country by making thousands of decisions. Yet, we do not ask almost anything in return and allow them to make decisions in the dark. Greater transparency will minimize the extent to which narrow interests - that don’t represent the greater public - shape decision-making. It is the public’s rights to know how their representatives’ time is spent and efforts invested.
This is not the first time the need for transparency has come up. After elections for the 19th Knesset, candidates promised to increase transparency measures. Yet soon after, it became clear this was lip service. Just to state some examples: elected officials shelved legislation requiring the exposure of their stock portfolios, they have repeatedly thwarted the implementation of ministerial vote transparency laws (Sunlight laws), and have eliminated the proposal to make their capital statements public. Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and Naftali Bennett admitted to using private investigators (Bennett was even fined for it), yet they shelved laws supporting the expansion of lobbyist regulation and exposure of the position papers they received from them. In a particularly aggressive move, MK David Rotem, head of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, killed a proposal for greater transparency in the settlement division budget.
In the United States, the public can see the full investment portfolio of a vast majority of elected officials as well as the lists of all those who visit Obama at the White House. In Israel, it is only after information was leaked that I found out the Prime Minister had dinner at the residence of Yitzhak Tshuva days before the Knesset determined the amount of taxes owed by his company, or that the Minister of Tourism took night tours to the house of the woman to whom his office gave a million NIS in public money. Our representatives conduct their business behind closed doors and information leaked during major events (like the presidential race or the Holyland trial), shows that this is no coincidence. What we do see clearly though, is where some MK’s go after they finish their terms - to work for tycoons and lobbyists.
Who are we?
Nir Hirschman, Communications Adviser; For list of Professionals, Academy experts, Activists and artists that support the project click here
Translation: Liat Krawczyk
Donations (so far 45,000 USD raised from 1500 supporters)
What the Knesset's Chairman thinks about the project? Click for an article in the Jpost
Increasingly, the world is seeing the politicization and polarization of media sources, often funded by, or run by a management devoted to, specific interest groups. Over my last ten years as a journalist in Israel, I have become frustrated with this phenomenon.
For the first time, I am asking people to take matters into their own hands and to leverage the power of crowd-funding to tell a very different story - one that is not sanctioned by media outlets and by the powers that run them but that truly demands accountability from the persons and institutions that are meant to serve us. Described above is the 2014 campaign, which - if goes well, might be the first in a series of truths that must be told.
Democracy shouldn’t stop at the voting booth. We welcome your help.