Kang accused of ‘misusing party funds’
By Lee Tae-hoon
A faction in the minor opposition Unified Progressive Party (UPP) accused one of its members, Kang Ki-kab, Friday of “misappropriating” 196.8 million won ($172,170) in party membership fees.
The accusation comes at a time when the party’s co-leader Lee Jung-hee and her loyalists are trying to thwart Kang and other members who oppose her in a power struggle. Kang was being set up as a caretaker leader of the leftist party.
“I have urged his office countless times to pay its delayed membership fees, which amount to about 200 million won now, but to no avail,” a senior member of the party said asking for anonymity.
Under party rules, assistants of lawmakers are required to chip in a significant portion of their state-paid wages as “special party membership fees.” Kang used the fees to fund his April 11 election campaign and failed to pay them to the party.
The leftist party was launched in December through a merger of the Democratic Labor Party (DLP) with smaller liberal parties, and in order to shore up its shortage of funds, each lawmaker’s office was required to pay 5 million won per month. Prior to the merger, Kang and affiliated lawmakers were “required” to give 14.7 million won a month as membership fees.
A senior aide to Kang acknowledged that Kang used his share of the mandated contribution and his aides’ membership fees because the lawmaker could not cope with the snowballing expenditure during the April elections.
“Kang was unable to pay his and his aides’ contributions as he had to hire three new people for the election and cover growing campaigning expenses in the heated race,” he said.
Ha said Kang, one of the poorest legislators, may not be able to pay the money he “owes” the party and his aides as the total value of his assets would be less than the money he is obliged to.
The aide suspects that the UPP, which has been secretly collecting the special membership fees, made public the unpaid contributions by Kang and other UPP lawmakers’ offices for political advantage.
A minority group within the UPP has been trying to appoint Kang, who they see as a moderate member of the leftist party, as the head of the party’s emergency committee.
However, mainstream members of the pro-labor party have rejected the proposal on fears that he will side with the minority group and push for a mass resignation of the incumbent leadership and proportional lawmakers-elect.
According to a document that the UPP posted on its website Thursday, only Rep. Lee, leader of the party’s largest faction and her aides paid all of their membership fees.
“Isn’t the intention of making it public on the website obvious?” a blogger identified as “ordinary party member” said. “I didn’t know the mainstream would act so dirty.”