NEC claims Lim violated election law

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NEC claims Lim violated election law

The state election watchdog asked the prosecution yesterday to launch an investigation into former Blue House official Lim Jong-hoon on charges that he allegedly tried to interfere in local politics using his position at the presidential office in violation of the election law.

The Gyeonggi branch of the National Election Commission submitted a complaint against Lim, a former Blue House civil affairs secretary, claiming he violated the Public Official Election Act by breaking political neutrality, which a public official is required to uphold.

In a special probe into the allegations, the election watchdog said in its complaint that Lim tried to influence the outcome of the Saenuri Party’s primary for the Suwon mayoral election as well as council member candidacies for the Gyeonggi government.

Lim is accused of interviewing 15 potential election contenders on Feb. 22 during a luncheon, after going on a mountain hike with them on the same day in Suwon. After the meetings, Lim is believed to have expressed his opinion on whether the interviewees should run in the party primary.

When accusations against the civil affairs secretary surfaced, he initially defended himself, claiming he was simply trying to give the campaign hopefuls political advice.

However, the 61-year-old official bowed to political pressure on March 8 and tendered his resignation, which President Park Geun-hye approved two days later.

Lim holds a law degree from Seoul National University. He was formerly a National Assembly employee and law professor before joining the Saenuri Party. The presidential secretary of civil affairs is considered a crucial post for the president, as its primary roles include supervising and detecting corruption by civil servants.

With the June 4 local elections less than three months away, similar cases are expected to emerge as aspiring politicians vie to win available candidacies.

Seoul education chief Moon Yong-lin was embroiled in a controversy yesterday after Democratic Representative Park Hye-ja alleged that the Seoul Early Childhood Education and Development Institute - under the auspices of by the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education and led by Moon - purchased more than 1,000 books authored by Moon and gave them free of charge to participants in the institute’s educational programs.

“I strongly demand the election watchdog look into this matter and see whether it violates the election law,” the lawmaker said during a party leadership meeting yesterday at the National Assembly. “It is not too much to say that giving away his books for free constitutes a violation of the election law, which forbids candidates from making donations ahead of the election.”

The professor turned education chief is seeking re-election in the June elections.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]


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