Gerry Brownlee is in court as some property owners challenge his decision to open up some blocks of land for new sections post-earthquake and not others. One of those property owners is Independent Seafoods. They would also have been one of a hundred to have benefited from a 2009 private members’ bill by Clayton Cosgrove. One of Cosgrove’s donors was IS. Brownlee’s shopped a smear based on that, and The Nation ran it.
Cosgrove handled the smear absolutely correctly: he fronted up, he challenged Rachel Smalley to just come out and say that The Nation is implying he corruptly accepted donations in return to legislation (she demurred, and lost credibility), he explained that his Bill wasn’t a favour for IS and IS’s donation wasn’t linked to the Bill, and then he revealed that Brownlee had been shopping this story around the media as a payback to IS for taking Brownlee to court.
This wasn’t Politics 101, this was Politics masters’ level from Cosgrove. He closed down a potential scandal and revealed the motives of those behind it.
Frankly, this is just the kind of thing we’ve come to expect from Brownlee. He is both incompetent and a bully. Whenever someone challenges his incompetence, he tries to bully them but, being incompetent, he fucks that up too.
It was a shame that The Nation decided to be part of it. Their entire allegation, which they didn’t even have the balls to come out and say straight, was that if a donor would have benefited from a policy of a politician that they donated to, then there must be corruption.
A simple moment’s thought shows you that is stupid: unions support Labour and the Greens because they have policies that advance the interests of their members, the Road Transport Forum supports National because it has a massive motorway building programme. The whole point of allowing political donations is so that people can fund the campaigns of politicians whose policies they approve of.
Cosgrove hid nothing, he didn’t cut a policy for donations deal, he declared his donations. And Independent Seafoods thought that he, among a number of politicians, including a number in the National Party, is a good MP – so they donated to him.
Unless you go to state funding of political parties (and, for what it’s worth, I support that) then, inevitably, the people who donate to politicians are going to be the people who like their policies.