Saenuri puts off expelling scandalized lawmaker

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Saenuri puts off expelling scandalized lawmaker

The Saenuri Party yesterday delayed its scheduled expulsion of a former legislative election nomination committee member accused of receiving bribes when the former lawmaker appealed the disciplinary action.

Hyun Ki-hwan, a former lawmaker of the conservative ruling party, was accused of receiving money from Representative Hyun Young-hee in return for giving her the proportional representation nomination in the April 11 legislative election.

The prosecution is currently looking into the scandal, but the party’s ethics committee already decided to expel the two for damaging the party’s reputation.

While Hyun Ki-hwan can be kicked out after the Supreme Council’s approval, a motion to expel Representative Hyun must be approved by two-thirds of the party lawmakers.

The Supreme Council yesterday planned to approve the expulsion of the accused nomination seller, but decided to delay it to Thursday as he challenged the ethics committee’s decision.

“Although some said we should approve the expulsion quickly, others said we need to respect the procedure,” said Representative Hong Il-pyo, spokesman for the party. “Because there was a disagreement, we couldn’t make a decision today.”

Hong said when the lawmakers’ assembly would vote on Representative Hyun’s expulsion will also be decided at the Supreme Council meeting on Thursday.

As the party delayed the expulsion of the two main suspects in the scandal, concerns grew in the presidential campaign of Park Geun-hye.

Hyun Ki-hwan is a Park loyalist and the nomination for the April 11 legislative election was carried out under Park’s emergency leadership of the party. A transparent and bribe-free nomination process was one of her key reform projects.

Meanwhile, Jo Gi-mun, the suspected middleman in the money-for-nomination scandal, underwent a warrant hearing yesterday.

The Busan District Prosecutors’ Office wanted to detain Jo, former public relations head of the Saenuri Party’s Busan chapter, on the suspicion that he acted as a middleman. Representative Hyun was suspected of giving 300 million won ($265,228) to then-nomination committee member Hyun through Jo.

By Ser Myo-ja, Heo Jin [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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