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Political Donor Identities Questioned

Posted July. 21, 2006 03:02,   


It was revealed that 580 donors who contributed 2.26 billion won didn’t disclose their occupation when they donated election fund for candidates of heads of 16 municipal governments in the May 31 local elections. Such cases were 35.1% of the total 1652 donations, or 36.9% of the total amount of 6.13 billion won. On July 20, this paper gathered and analyzed data on the lists of donors that candidates turned in to the National Election Commission.

A new donation system for candidates running for heads of local governments was adopted in the May 31 local elections. Under the new system, a donor can contribute 5.0 million won to a candidate or a maximum 20 million won to multiple candidates.

According to a law on political funding, a donor who contributes more than 1.2 million won a year has to reveal one’s real name and the election watchdog discloses the list to the public. That aims at enhancing the transparency of political fundraising.

In reality, however, more than one third of large-amount donors did not reveal their jobs or other details that can show their relation with candidates, weakening its effects. Even those who revealed their jobs used vague terms such as “office worker.”

The analysis shows among the large donors, company CEOs account for 22.9%, or 1.44 billion won. CEOs and employees of construction companies that are affected by public construction works ordered by local governments donated 409.5 million won to the election funds, accounting for 6.7% of the total amount of money donated.

Kang-Myoung Chang Yong-Gwan Jung tesomiom@donga.com yongari@donga.com