Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is neck and neck with rivals ahead of an election next month that could be decided not by foreign policy, but by spending on things like takeout meals and personal grooming. A report published by Israel's state comptroller yesterday criticized Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, for excessive spending of public funds, with cleaning bills alone adding up to $20,000 a month for their two residences, the Los Angeles Times reports. The spending—which soared after Netanyahu took office in 2009 but slowed down a few years later—also included at least $100 a day in grooming expenses for the couple and $20,000 a year on takeout food, even though taxpayers also paid for a cook.
Ahead of the report's release, the couple invited a celebrity interior designer to tour the official residence and released a video showing run-down parts of the residence and a shabby kitchen the designer declared was like that of "a Romanian orphanage from 1954." But the Guardian reports that critics soon charged that the dilapidated kitchen in the video was where workers took their meals and that the Netanyahus actually use a lavish, newly renovated kitchen on another floor. Critics also said showing the interior of the official residence was a breach of security and questioned whether the designer's involvement constituted an illegal campaign donation, reports the New York Times. Netanyahu is headed for more controversy on March 3, when he's set to address the US Congress.