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About that $100,000 National Party donation

Written By: - Date published: 10:20 am, January 27th, 2019 - 88 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, accountability, articles, Deep stuff, democracy under attack, journalism, Media, national, nick smith, Politics, same old national, Simon Bridges - Tags: , , ,

In a recent Herald article Fran O’Sullivan asks a very pertinent question, what has happened to the investigation of the $100,000 donation made to National that was partitioned so that it did not have to be reported?

The background was described in this way in an earlier Herald article by David Fisher:

Ross – in an extraordinary press conference – said: “On the 14th of May this year I attended a dinner with Simon Bridges at the home of a wealthy Chinese businessman.”

He later named Zhang and then tweeted pictures of Bridges and Zhang at the dinner.

Ross said Bridges rang the following week, having been at a fundraiser for National list MP Paul Goldsmith, who lives in the Epsom electorate which includes Zhang’s home.

“He was excited because he was offered a $100,000 donation from the same wealthy Chinese businessman.

“Simon asked me to collect this donation. He was at pains to point out the donation should not be made public and could I ensure this.”

Ross said he did as Bridges asked, splitting the money into chunks smaller than the $15,000 limit at which donations had to be declared.

“The full $100,000 donation has not been disclosed to the Electoral Commission.”

Ross said he recorded a conversation with Bridges on June 20 during which the donation was discussed. The Botany MP said he asked – in the recording – what Bridges wanted done with the money.

Ross said he later told a party manager to raise concerns if he believed electoral law had not been complied with.

Bridges denied any breach of the law and accused Ross of lashing out after being exposed as the likely source of an information leak to the media.

The really embarrassing thing for National is that the donor, Yikun Zhang, was proposed by National for and was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit recently. And this twitter feed explores his possible connection with the Chinese Communist Party.

O’Sullivan’s article is a brutal assessment of why the donation needs to be investigated.  And she points to recent comments by Chris Finlayson and Nick Smith to suggest that there is some disquiet within National’s ranks about what has happened.  She says this:

Despite the public front National has adopted on the donations issue, it has still not satisfactorily dealt with Ross’ claim that he was effectively asked to wash a $100,000 donation from Yikun Zhang by ensuring it was split into smaller amounts.

National Party apparatchiks denied there was a $100,000 donation. National Leader Simon Bridges said at the time a “large sum of money” came into the party from multiple sources through donations from Zhang and supporters through Ross’ electorate account in Botany in the first instance.

The issue here is one of “substance over form”.

Nor has Bridges dealt satisfactorily with the clear implication from the tapes that Ross leaked, of a prior conversation that suggested he favoured effectively trading positions for different ethnicities on National’s list, in return for donations.

These issues — which strike at the heart of democracy and business ethics — have been obscured in the general furore over Ross’ meltdown.

It is obvious that there is sufficient underlying truth to Ross’ claims on this score to have provoked senior National MPs to call for change.

Former Attorney-General and National MP Chris Finlayson was sufficiently exercised to use his valedictory speech in Parliament last year to say he was concerned over funding of political parties by non-nationals.

Finlayson called for both major parties to work together on party funding rules, saying it was his personal view that it should be illegal for non-nationals to donate to political parties.

“Our political system belongs to New Zealanders and I don’t like the idea of foreigners funding it … we need to work together to ensure our democracy remains our democracy.”

The issue has also festered with the long-serving veteran National MP Nick Smith who revealed to the Herald this week he also wants reforms to ensure the integrity of the NZ electoral system.

O’Sullivan is right. This needs to be investigated properly. Not only because of the threat to our democracy but because elements of the National Party may have engaged in a corrupt practice. And interestingly if Ross was convicted as a party to what happened he would be goneburger.

88 comments on “About that $100,000 National Party donation ”

  1. Dennis Frank 1

    Good on her for pursuing the issue. The cops are suspiciously quiet. Did they give the investigation to a Nat supporter? If so, it’s a case of that person stalling, plus collusion from whoever in the police hierarchy allocated the job.

    How can the govt enforce accountability for moral corruption in the police force? That’s the question raised by the failure to prosecute. Maybe they are getting there and we ought not to be impatient. Are they really taking too long to decide?

    • patricia bremner 1.1

      An open inquiry similar to the Banking and Financial sector in Australia would prove informative. These are sophisticated organised members and parliamentarians who have access to advice and money.

      We wish to know.. Who is giving advice?
      Are there strings attached to the donations?
      What influence is this having on our system?
      Who is involved?
      Actions we need to take should safe guard our system against manipulation.

    • SARAH 1.2

      I have hope that it’s taking longer than any of us would assume because they’ve followed their investigation into ‘Cabinet Clubs’, which is a backdoor way of donating, and other ways which we know nothing about, and this has become bigger than any of us knows. It’s only a hope which will probably lead to great disappointment and rage of course.

  2. Tamati Tautuhi 2

    Just like Cunliffe’s $50,000 bottle of wine ?

    • Tamati. Just like? So you are saying the Chinese Communist Party gave him that?

      • Tamati Tautuhi 2.1.1

        Don’t know what the story was it was in the news a while back ?

        • Anne 2.1.1.1

          There was no such $50,000 bottle Tamati. Donghui Liu was lying. Labour went through all its financial transactions with a fine tooth comb and found nothing. And iirc, they were happy to let the media see those transactions for themselves.

          What they did discover: Liu bought a bottle of wine for $200 at a Labour wine auction in the Hawkes Bay region. It might have been for Stuart Nash. Slight difference in the amount claimed………

          The MSM were also very lax with the truth because at that time they were hand in glove with John Key and co., and were trying to bring down Cunliffe. It was a shocking episode in NZ’s political history and should not be allowed to be forgotten.

          You will recall John Armstrong’s call for Cunliffe to be sacked around the same time? He apologised long after the event – after all the damage to Cunliffe and Labour had been done.

          Labour lost the 2014 election because of all the lies and innuendo.

          • Kat 2.1.1.1.1

            “Labour lost the 2014 election because of all the lies and innuendo…..”

            Very true Anne, and on the other hand National still keep the numbers up through lies and innuendo. How does National get away with it, easy answer, they own most of the MSM. In getting political propaganda to the sheeple nothing has changed since the days of Herr Goebbels.

            In New Zealand its all about the framing of the information. National have become the benchmark for lies and innuendo masquerading as news. Even their dirty laundry will be framed as an exercise in natural normal human cleansing that needs to be done and that they are the champions for getting it done.

          • mosa 2.1.1.1.2

            Completely agree Anne.
            It seems a bit rich for Smith and Finlayson to express concern now after they both sat in cabinet when Key was quite happy to facilitate and accept large donations and use those contacts to frame and destroy members of the Labour party.
            I don’t remember anyone of these people say it was an issue keeping them up all night !

        • DirkDirkin 2.1.1.2

          If you dont know the facts Tamati, dont say anything

      • Shadrach 2.1.2

        Not sure about the wine, but this is interesting

        https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12058818

        • Frankie and Benjie 2.1.2.1

          Yes very interesting that the US concern included Bill English passing anything from Five Eyes about China on to his MP.
          “… was briefed to Mr Yang Jian, the National MP revealed last year as having trained spies for China.”

          He is still in National’s caucus. Generally hidden from public view now?

    • patricia bremner 2.2

      Tamati, no, this is a real $100 000, the other was a National party scam story.

  3. Irascible 3

    Perhaps we should also wonder at the Dong Hua Liu donation to Jami-Lee Ross that was “rested” in his account until it was returned as being unnecessary post the 2014 election. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11405494

  4. Infused 4

    Oh where to start with the most transparent govt ever.

    The cops take ages to do anything

  5. See how the personal dirty laundry is used to distract from the public interest?

  6. National’s on safe ground here. Most people don’t understand or particularly care about the arcane rules governing political party donations, but they very much understand and are happy to gossip about adultery and who was the bad guy in the relationship between two celebs (much as it’s depressing to think that NZ is so dull these two count as celebrities). The media will go with blathering about Sarah Dowie over investigating corrupt practice in this case.

  7. rata 7

    There is so much money sloshing around 100k is fec#k all .
    Besides one word or one sound bite can change voters big time.
    Spin and photo opps are what really count.

  8. Tamati Tautuhi 8

    Who is having sex with who is of more interest to the General NZ Public.

  9. Ad 9

    Presumably a ban on foreign donations would disable the New Zealand LabourParty getting donations from international unions, socialist outfits, and international Labour Parties and their equivalents elsewhere.

    All very well for Nick Smith to develop a small and slow-burning conscience in such matters, but I’d like to see if it’s in Labour’s interests first.

    After all National is always going to get propped by local donations from the rich, and Labour won’t, so I would not like to see us weakened over such a principle.

    • alwyn 9.1

      “Presumably a ban on foreign donations would disable the New Zealand LabourParty”.
      Almost certainly.
      Shame if Putin and Xi couldn’t continue to buy the support of the CoL wouldn’t it?
      It would be good for New Zealand of course if they were kept out of our affairs but the Labour Party would certainly struggle without their largesse.

      • Graeme 9.1.1

        I can’t see much largesse coming Labour’s way from Mr Xi right now after the Government seems to have nailed it’s colours firmly on the 5 eyes mast over Chinese intelligence gathering. Anyway, isn’t the blue team more his plaything.

      • Red Blooded One 9.1.2

        Would you like to provide just the tiniest of proof to your allegations of the Coalition of Liberals are receiving financial support from Putin and Xi. Remind me which party actually has a past or current Chinese Communist Party member as one of their MP’s.

        • alwyn 9.1.2.1

          I’ll tell you what.
          Would you like to provide just the tiniest of proof to your friends allegations of the National Party getting a single donation, or a number of donations from the same person, that exceeds the amount that must be reported?
          There were apparently a number of donations from a number of people which may have come to an amount of $100,000.
          Those individual, independent donations do not have to have the donors identified.
          Your evidence that it was a single donation of $100,000 please.
          Then I will consider your question.

          • Gabby 9.1.2.1.1

            Individual. Independent. Or not, wally.

          • dukeofurl 9.1.2.1.2

            The texts and phone messages released by JLR involve many references to the sum of $100,000 ‘arranged’ by Bridges.
            Being split into smaller amounts caused some issues for the party GM as electoral law requires names and addresses for the party internal use even if they arent made public.
            Plus that the total of the ‘no names’ people came exactly to $100k , not a $ under or over.

            • alwyn 9.1.2.1.2.1

              I don’t remember any references to the party not knowing who the people were. Do you have a link to this?

              A number of people donating a total of $100,000 is perfectly legal and does not have to be reported with names provided that the money came from people who did not contribute more than $15,000 each.

              I could, if I was rich and foolish, and had a bunch of friends who were equally so, hold a party ay my home to raise a total of $100k. If I got 9 other people to toss in $10k of their own money, and I put in the same myself, names would not have to be publicly released.

              It would only be illegal if the money was not provided by the people directly but was provided for them by someone who thereby donated more than $15k himself.

              If I won Lotto, and the Labour Party President was to ask me politely, I might arrange such a function to raise money for his mates. The only problem is that the sufficiently rich people I know all seem to be closet Greenies so getting enough of them to give to Labour would be a problem.

      • KJT 9.1.3

        Good piece of deflecting, fake news.

        Meanwhile. How about we crowdfund our own National MP?

        Only need $100 000.

    • Graeme 9.2

      “All very well for Nick Smith to develop a small and slow-burning conscience in such matters”

      Heavy duty, multi-layer astroturfing. Get as much cover over this thing before it all comes out and drags the party down to single figures…..

    • patricia bremner 9.3

      Even if such donations occur, they would not match the money put up by the Government to compensate farmers.
      Labour 1.6 million, mostly small donations.
      National 4.6 million numerous donations under 15000….. how convenient.
      Top 2.3 million from 2 donors.

  10. mary_a 10

    Makes me wonder now, with msm focusing on the alleged threatening Dowie text to JLR via a police investigation, whether Natz is making it “lucrative” for msm to push this issue as a diversionary tactic, much rather than that of the murky $100,00 donation, also being investigated by police!

    Dirt and slime definitely a strong part of Natz culture! It’s awash in it!

    • woodart 10.1

      yes, even duplicious-alien has done a column blameing the natz for dirty deeds done dirt cheap.

    • DJ Ward 10.2

      I think it’s part of the click bait culture in the media.

      Sex sells.

      Some dodgy, slightly complicated money laundering, not so much.

  11. Finlayson called for both major parties to work together on party funding rules, saying it was his personal view that it should be illegal for non-nationals to donate to political parties.

    “Our political system belongs to New Zealanders and I don’t like the idea of foreigners funding it … we need to work together to ensure our democracy remains our democracy.”

    ——————————————

    Ah yes, … the ChiNational party…..

  12. DJ Ward 12

    I often use the term “majicaly” implying that there isn’t some statistical anomaly that resulted in something happening.

    So ask yourself this. What is the statistical chance that a group of donators all put in a donation. All the same amount. All just below the limit. Except one donation that majicaly is smaller and in total adds up to exactly $100,000.

    Then when Simon is asked about it, he doesn’t deny it outright. Just make sure it doesn’t break the rules.

    Hmm, I think there may be some intentional, conspiracy, rule breaking.

  13. JustMe 13

    It sure does make one ask as to what part of the money raised from the 2017 pre-election auction that National had was declared to the Electoral Commission??? The auction was public knowledge but do we NZers really know how much was raised and how much was declared to the Electoral Commission?

    It certainly does sound like National have not learnt from the past events and has yet again done a John Banks i.e split donations so as not to have to declare anything. Talk about being devious and greedy as is wont of National.

    Such actions by National edges on hypocrisy when they have been insisting to this current government of the need for transparency and lets say accountability. They(the NZ National Party) most certainly have not been practicing what they have supposedly been preaching.

    It has been reported that China has a huge number of multi-millionaires. These multi-millionaires being the very ones the previous National government focused upon to perhaps boost up their(Nationals’) chance at being voted in again each election. National have actively courted the Asian population and especially the multi-millionaire Chinese population.

    How many Instant Kiwis did the previous National government allow into NZ from China in return for multiple donations and especially split donations since say 2008 through to pre-election auction night 2017?

    Whatever money swapped hands into a political party bank account or three between general election 2008 through to late 2017 beggars belief. We can only guess it’s more than enough and all that time the National government were telling NZers that we are living beyond our means and MUST experience financial cutbacks whilst they were at the same time pandering to the demands of their(Natonals) Chinese masters.

  14. Chris T 14

    Whatever it is there are two things that are probably certain.

    It is Ross that would have organised it.

    Bridges would have had nothing to do with it……..on paper.

    • patricia bremner 14.1

      Chris, Bridges was only to keen to blame his expenses leak on JLR.

      • Chris T 14.1.1

        Of course.

        He will let Ross fall on his own sword and let it fall as it falls…….cos he knows nothing about it………….and his name ain’t anywhere

    • Sacha 14.2

      “Bridges would have had nothing to do with it……..on paper.”

      Hence the audio recording of his conversation with Bridges that JLR provided to media. Haven’t we already had this same discussion here?

  15. patricia bremner 15

    GOSH. Chris, you think trading donations for a place on the list is …”Nothing”

    • As long as there’s room for Bridges to say “It was within the rules,” for Nat supporters that’s the very definition of “nothing.” Why bother putting all those loopholes in the rules if you don’t make full use of them?

  16. Dukeofurl 16

    National ha a huge donation from a front company in Australia..which had to be returned, well over $1500.
    Then strangely there was then an fully anonymous amount of a similar quantum directly to the Election Commission, which passed it on to National.
    Exclusive Brethren again ?

  17. JustMe 17

    It does look glaringly obvious that when it comes to money and donations that the NZ National Party and its MPs will find any way possible to avoid having to declare the amount to even the Electoral Commission.

    That behaviour by them edges into bribery and corruption.

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