Campaigns take different tacks to pad out coffers

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Campaigns take different tacks to pad out coffers

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With two months left until the presidential election, the three major candidates have chosen different methods to finance their campaigns.

While the conservative ruling party’s Park Geun-hye decided to take out loans, Moon Jae-in of the opposition Democratic United Party and independent Ahn Cheol-soo planned to sell funds to raise money.

Under Article 122 of the Public Official Election Act, the election expense limit for a candidate in the Dec. 19 presidential election is set at 55.9 billion won ($50.6 million).

While the law allows a candidate to create up to 5 percent of the total, or nearly 2.8 billion won, through fund-raising activities from contributors, each campaign came up with different plans to finance the rest.

A candidate is required to pay 300 million won to the government to register the candidacy. If a candidate has already paid 60 million won during the preliminary registration period, he or she needs to pay the rest when making the official registration on Nov. 25.

In addition to the registration fee, even larger sums are necessary to finance a campaign, including public affairs expenses and operation costs for the staffers.

Candidates representing political parties are entitled to receive the state subsidies based on the number of lawmakers each party has. The money will be provided within two days of the official candidate registration.

Park is expected to receive 15.7 billion won in state subsidies and raise 18.5 billion won in donations from her supporters.

If she wants to max out her funds, she still needs to generate another 37.5 billion won. Her aides said she will take out loans from financial institutions to reach the limit.

Moon will receive about 15.2 billion won from the state as a subsidy and raise about 3 billion won through donations from his supporters. To raise more money, the campaign will sell the “Moon Jae-in Ivy Fund” starting Monday.

The investment product will come with a 3.09 percent annual interest rate and Moon hopes to raise 20 billion won.

According to Representative Woo Won-shik, a senior manager of the Moon campaign, the minimum investment will be 10,000 won and there will be no ceiling.

With no party affiliation, Ahn is not entitled to any state subsidy. In addition to the fund-raising activities for his supporters, Ahn needs to finance his campaign with his own assets.

According to sources, Ahn also plans to sell funds to the public.

The three candidates have plans to repay the loan or the investors after receiving reimbursements on their campaign expenses from the state. According to Article 122 of the election law, the National Election Commission will replenish a candidate who scored more than 15 percent of the total valid votes the election expenses.

A tricky question, however, arises when Moon and Ahn consolidate their candidacies. If Moon gives up his candidacy, Ahn, even if he represents the liberals, won’t be able to receive state subsidies tied to the DUP.

The DUP also loses its right to claim any reimbursement for the campaign expense, despite its plan to repay the investors after Feb. 27, 2013, when it receives reimbursements.

The Saenuri Party yesterday criticized the liberals’ plans to sell funds to the voters.

“It seems like they are going after the money first,” said a senior official at Park’s campaign.

“If they agree to consolidate the candidacies, how will they be able to pay back the investors? They shouldn’t start gambling with the people.”

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

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