Shady special feesProsecutors have started an investigation on Yang Jeong-nye, the 31-year-old woman who was given Pro-Park United’s No. 1 proportional seat in the National Assembly. Yang did not write in her candidacy application that she is married. Naturally, the property her husband owns was omitted.
The Civil Servant’s Ethics Law requires candidates to report the property of spouses. If Yang is found to have falsely represented herself, it is a serious case that can cost her job at the National Assembly.
At the heart of this mysterious case is whether Yang paid a huge amount of political money to get her nomination.
As suspicions grew, it came out that she lied about once being head of the biggest political fan club for Park Geun-hye, and that she completed graduate studies in law at Yonsei University. Stories that her mother, the president of an enterprise, must have paid the party a “special membership fee” in exchange for her daughter’s seat, are spreading.
Yang admitted that she paid a special party membership fee because the party called first when it was in financial need. The problem involves the distinction between a contribution to political funds during the nomination process and the special membership fee.
According to Clause 2 of Article 47 of the election law, which came into effect just one month before the general elections, no one can accept or provide money to obtain a nomination.
But an unknown young woman, the daughter of a rich businesswoman, got her nomination and her money was delivered to the party in the name of a special membership fee. But such a fee does not exist in party provisions. So prosecutors must investigate if that money was what she paid for her seat.
During past authoritarian regimes, a special membership fee was another name for a political fund. Then, such contributions were overlooked to help the opposition party because all the money flowed into the ruling party. No one overlooks them anymore.
Prosecutors should also investigate if Jeong Kuk-kyo, who got the No. 6 proportional seat for the United Democratic Party, paid a special membership fee to the party.
The UDP received 12.9 billion won ($12 million) in election money from the national treasury, while the GNP received 11.7 billion won.
Political parties should stop collecting shady special membership fees to support their activities.
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