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Donations to ruling party increase 20 pct: watchdog

All Headlines 11:04 February 27, 2018

SEOUL, Feb. 27 (Yonhap) -- Members of the National Assembly collected 54.1 billion won (US$50.6 million) in donations last year, an average 180 million won per lawmaker, slightly up from a year earlier, data from the state election watchdog showed Tuesday.

In particular, donations to members of the ruling Democratic Party rose about 20 percent to 26.9 billion won in total and an average 222 million won per lawmaker, according to the data from the National Election Commission.

The election watchdog keeps track of the data and discloses it as part of anti-corruption efforts.

The total amount of donations that the 299 National Assembly members grossed last year came to 54.09 billion won, up 1 percent from 2016. The average amount of donations given to a lawmaker stood at 180.9 million won, up 0.7 percent from the previous year.

Donations to ruling party increase 20 pct: watchdog - 1

The amounts of donations collected in 2016 and 2017 were similar because both were election years. By law, a lawmaker can collect up to 150 million won in a non-election year and twice as much in an election year.

About half of the total donations went to the 121 lawmakers of the ruling DP. The total donations the party received represented a 45 billion-won increase from 2016 and a 38 million-won increase per lawmaker from the year earlier.

On the other hand, the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, which has 118 lawmakers, grossed about 18 billion won. The total amount is similar to donations the party's predecessor, the Saenuri Party, received in 2016, when it had only 99 lawmakers, but the amount of donations per lawmaker decreased by about 30 million won.

The minor opposition People's and Bareun parties, which merged into the Bareunmirae Party earlier this month, received 5.94 billion won and 1.4 billion won, respectively, similar to those of the previous year.

The progressive opposition Justice Party collected 1.2 billion won.

By lawmaker, Rep. Park Ju-min of the ruling party topped the list with 348 million won, which is more than the legal limit. Including Park, 42 lawmakers received more than 300 million won of donations.

NEC officials said the donations in excess of the legal limit will be returned or put into state coffers.

Former lawmaker Bae Duk-kwang received the lowest amount of donations with only 14.4 million won. Bae resigned as lawmaker after being arrested in a corruption scandal.

In terms of donations to parties, not lawmakers, the Justice Party received the most with 654 million won, followed by the Korean Patriots Party with 546 million won, the ruling DP with 510 million won and the Minjung Party with 349 million won, the data showed.

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