The ruling United National Movement (UNM) party has filled its coffers with GEL 14.4 million (about USD 8.77 million) with financial donations received in last seven weeks - almost nine times more than its major rival, opposition coalition Georgian Dream, led by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, has received in the same period.
After party funding rules have been tightened late last year, law bans corporate funding and a single Georgian citizen can donate to political parties maximum of GEL 60,000 (about USD 36,500) per year.
State Audit Office (SAO), which also monitors political finances, released this week data on political party donations covering a period between June 20 and August 9.
In this period the ruling UNM party has received total of GEL 14,414,134 from more than 600 individuals with most of them representing big donors contributing to UNM large amount of sums ranging from GEL 1,000 to GEL 60,000. 72 individuals donated the ruling party GEL 60,000.
GEL 14,4 million is on top of GEL 1.74 million, which the ruling party has received in financial donations in a period between January and June 19, 2012.
A newly established pro-ruling party organization, Georgia Not For Sale, also falls under the monitoring of the State Audit Service, whose financial donations were also made public. The group is producing negative political ads against Bidzina Ivanishvili and buys airtime on television stations to air these ads.
Since it was established in early July the Georgia Not For Sale has received total of GEL 330,000 in financial donations from six individuals, including GEL 60,000 from Gia Getsadze, ex-governor of Imereti region and deputy interior minister in 2004-2005, who now runs a law and lobbying firm.
Georgian Dream opposition coalition, which unites six political parties plus a public movement established by Ivanishvili before launching his own political party, received total of GEL 1,654,088 in financial donations in a period between June 20 and August 9, 2012.
But GEL 127,143 out of total GEL 1.65 million was deemed by the court and the State Audit Office to be illegal donation and its contributors were fined on August 10.
Ivanishvili's party, Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia, received total of GEL 498,701 from 391 individuals.
There are over 240 people among the donors who have contributed small sums – ranging from only GEL 1 to GEL 100. Among the biggest donors were retired footballer Kakha Kaladze and a businessman Valery Gelashvili, who donated GEL 60,000 each - both of them have been named among the Georgian Dream's majoritarian MP candidates. A former lawmaker Guguli Magradze contributed GEL 50,000 to Ivanishvili's party.
Other parties within the coalition had the following donations in last seven weeks: Our Georgia-Free Democrats – GEL 344,002; National Forum – GEL 322,876; Republican Party – GEL 175,128; Conservative Party – GEL 173,550; Industry Will Save Georgia – GEL 131,770, including GEL 59,900 from its leader Gogi Topadze.
The Georgian Dream public movement, established by Ivanishvili in December, received total of GEL 8,061 donations from 98 individuals with many of them contributing small sums ranging from GEL 2 to GEL 100; the largest contribution from a single individual was made in an amount of GEL 2,000.
Other parties fall far behind the governing party and the major opposition coalition in terms of financial donations. Free Georgia, a small opposition party led by Kakha Kukava, has received GEL 206,650 since June 20. Kukava donated GEL 33,366 to his party. The New Rights party received in the same period GEL 16,000 from its leader Davit Gamkrelidze and Christian-Democratic Movement had GEL 5,000 from a single donor since June 20.
The State Audit Office has released also this week aggregate figures about political finances covering a period between November, 2011 and late July, 2012, according to which legally received total income for the Georgian Dream stood at GEL 26.18 million, which also includes Ivanishvili's GEL 16.7 million donations to his public movement made late last year, before tightened party funding rules were imposed. The ruling party, according to these data, received between November, 2011 and July 25, 2012 – GEL 9.58 million. State Audit Office (SAO) has also estimated that the Georgian Dream’s total expenses in the same period were GEL 24.57 million of which, SAO said, GEL 18.39 million was “illegal expenditures” and the ruling party spent – GEL 2.59 million of which, according to SAO, GEL 102,572 was “illegal expenditures”.