Unbiased investigation needed
The prosecution last week raided the office of Lee Seok-gi, a proportional representative of the Unified Progressive Party. Lee and the minor opposition party vehemently protested that the search and seizure was an act of political oppression.
The Suncheon branch of the Gwangju District Prosecutors’ Office confiscated relevant documents from Lee as part of its investigation into an alleged corruption scandal of Chang Man-chai, the education superintendent of South Jeolla, and Jang Hui-guk, the education chief of Gwangju.
The prosecutors reportedly discovered fraudulent activities associated with CN Communications, formerly CNP Strategic Group, which is operated by Lee and worked on Chang’s campaign. The public relations company is suspected of exaggerating Chang’s election campaign costs incurred during the local election of 2010.
Under the election law, CN Communications received the expenses from the National Election Commission. Chang and CN Communications allegedly conspired to inflate the bill.
The bribery case is controversial because the political fundraising for Lee and the former mainstream faction led by Lee in the UPP is also under investigation. Since CN Communications was established in 2005, the company was in charge of campaigning for progressive candidates in various elections and has been suspected as the source of money for the former mainstream faction. It is suspected that the mainstream faction could take over the UPP and Lee could gain influence using the funding of CN Communications.
Even if CN Communications had made money by working for the progressive faction, it would have been a mere moral issue if the company had followed the rules. But if CN Communications and candidates colluded and fabricated the campaign costs just as the prosecutors claim, CN Communications would face criminal, not political, charges.
The mainstream faction has ignored the rules for the sake of their beliefs, as it is well demonstrated in the irregularities and violence of the former mainstream faction in the primary and later at the central steering committee meeting,
Nevertheless, the prosecution must be prudent in its investigation. No matter how much the party is socially condemned, they are an incumbent political power, and therefore the investigation may be conceived as political oppression. They must thoroughly clarify the roots of doubts on the morality of the progressives, but at the same time avoid unnecessary political misunderstanding.
Let’s hope for the restoration of the prosecutors’ fallen honor.