Citizen Party to expel lawmaker-electThe Citizen Party (CP), a satellite offshoot of the ruling Democratic Party (DP), said Tuesday it will expel a lawmaker-elect and ask the prosecution to investigate her for suspected violations of election law.
Yang Jung-suk, a lawyer elected in the April 15 general elections as a proportional lawmaker of the CP, is facing accusations that she evaded paying tax by registering real estate she owned under someone else’s name.
“We concluded that there was a flaw in our verification,” Rep. Je Youn-kyung, spokeswoman of the CP, told the JoongAng Ilbo. “We will hold an ethics tribunal at 1 p.m. today and decide her fate.”
When Yang registered her candidacy with the CP, she reported to the National Election Commission (NEC) that she had 9.2 billion won ($7.5 million) of assets. The amount is 4.3 billion won higher than the amount she had reported when she ran as the DP’s proportional representation candidate in the 2016 general elections.
Yang said she owns three apartments in Seoul and two buildings in Seoul and Bucheon, Gyeonggi. She was suspected of using her sibling’s name to purchase some of those properties and evading tax.
The CP admitted that it had known about the suspicion before the general election but nominated her anyway. “We urged her to give up her nomination, but she refused,” Je said. “She insisted that she had clarified her position. But her explanation was not satisfactory and she refused to submit documents to verify her claim. Her family also coordinated their statements, so the party was limited in its investigation.”
Unless Yang surrenders her status as a lawmaker-elect, the expulsion from the CP will not automatically disqualify her. She will remain a lawmaker-elect as an independent.
The CP said it will file a criminal complaint to the prosecution to make sure it won’t lose a seat. The CP, a satellite offshoot of the DP which only filed proportional candidates, won 17 seats in this month’s general elections.
If Yang’s election is voided by the law, Lee Gyung-su, former deputy director of the ITER, an international nuclear fusion research and engineering megaproject, will succeed her and become a proportional lawmaker.
According to the Public Official Election Act, a lawmaker-elect will be disqualified when he or she is convicted of overspending campaign funds beyond the legal limit or committing election law violations. The CP said her failure to make an accurate wealth report to the NEC amounts to the violation of Article 250 of the Public Official Election Act.
According to the article, a person who publishes false information with the intention of getting elected will face a punishment by imprisonment for no more than five years or by a fine not exceeding 30 million won.
“There were precedents that an election victory was voided under the article,” said an NEC official. “When we held the general elections this month, a by-election also took place for the Jung District Office head in Busan. That vacancy was precisely created as the winner was disqualified for having reported a smaller amount of wealth.”
BY PARK HAE-LEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]