[EDITORIALS]Is campaign probe fair?After the raids of five top conglomerates in the presidential campaign finance scandal, the prosecution has requested a warrant to detain Surh Jeong-woo, a close aide of the former Grand National Party leader, Lee Hoi-chang, on allegations that he took illegal donations. The investigation is certainly picking up speed, in an apparent drive to end the probe before the year’s end. We will surely hear the results eventually, but there are a few aspects of the investigation concern us.
The first is the issue of equity. The Grand National Party and Mr. Lee were first suspected of taking 10 billion won ($8.4 million) through Representative Choi Don-woong. Now the prosecution is alleging that Mr. Surh was the deliverer of another 15 billion won to the Lee campaign. In comparison, a little more than a billion won has been traced to the Millennium Democratic Party campaign of President Roh Moo-hyun.
The priority given to the investigations and the timing of announcements can and will affect how it comes across to the public. It is generally believed that onetime candidate Chung Mong-joon’s support to Mr. Roh’s campaign evened out the donations given to the two candidates. The prosecution must not forget to investigate Mr. Roh’s campaign financing and make it public as well.
It is also questionable how the prosecution began picking up the pace in the investigation of Mr. Roh’s close aides when the opposition was about to push the independent counsel proposal through the National Assembly. A case in point: We know that the prosecution obtained testimony from a former Sun & Moon executive that he gave money to the former Blue House aide Lee Kwang-jae but did not pursue the lead for “lack of substance.” Then eight months later, the prosecution detained the chairman of Sun & Moon, Moon Byeong-ok, saying it has information that he gave 100 million won to Mr. Lee. It is timing like this that fuels the suspicion that the prosecution may not entirely be impartial in the investigation.
The prosecution must treat both sides equally. It must ensure that the public, which praised its work lately, is not disappointed.