- Date published:
12:23 pm, November 20th, 2019 - 74 comments
Categories: election 2020, election funding, elections, electoral commission, electoral systems, jacinda ardern, national, nz first, politicans, same old national, Simon Bridges, uncategorized, winston peters - Tags:
There was a further disclosure this morning, that the foundation paid for the campaign headquarters and staff overtime. From Matt Shand at Stuff:
Expenses records for the foundation seen by Stuff show [the NZ First Foundation] collected more than $500,000 in donations from April 2017 to March 2019 that could be in breach of electoral donation laws, particularly if the foundation was paying party expenses.
Many of these apparent donations to the foundation do not appear on the party’s electoral returns.
Invoices, seen by Stuff, reveal the foundation spent $325,000 in about 18 months to March 2019 – with most of the money appearing to directly benefit the NZ First Party.
About $28,000 was spent with Prime Property to rent campaign headquarters. Emails arranging to obtain swipe cards to the headquarters show the staffer collecting them identified himself as working directly for NZ First leader Winston Peters.
The same staff member bought $1736 worth of office furniture and later added a $169 document shredder and a $99 coat rack.
Another $10,000 was spent on staff overtime and $920 on a picture of lost sheep.
It does not appear this spending was declared to the Electoral Commission by the party.
If the headquarter expenditure was made from the loan made to the party that year then this is ok as the expenses do not appear to be election expenses. But if it is not then it is a donation and should have been declared. And if the money came from multiple sources then if they were over the threshold the contributors should have been disclosed.
There was also talk about a dispute concerning an internet bill.
Reporters should ask about the dates. If the bill was paid outside the statutory period then unless Court leave was sought it may have constituted an illegal practice.
But this story has wings. And Winston’s traditional means of dealing with this sort of problem is not going to make it go away. Clearly there is a lot of information being leaked and releasing it bit by bit will make this story continue for a while.
How is National handling this?
The only word that springs to mind is hypocrites.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is under pressure to order an investigation into allegations swirling around donations to New Zealand First, as the saga risks hurting her coalition Government.
Allegations of electoral donation wrongdoing levelled against the coalition partner also appears to have put a dampener on the National Party’s chances of working with NZ First after next year’s election.
NZ First leader Winston Peters is remaining defiant after reports that the NZ First Foundation – a secretive body which collects party donations – appeared to have hidden political donations worth almost half a million dollars.
National Party leader Simon Bridges says if the allegations are true, they would be the “most significant allegations of this kind we have seen in New Zealand’s history”.
There is this other matter being investigated that involves money for list seat positions being partitioned into non discloseable chunks that I thought was just as significant.
And this is a matter for the authorities to investigate. There should be no political directions given. To even suggest this is totally bizarre.
To cap things off Bridges suggested that the episode would make it harder for National to work with NZ First in the future. Clearly they are still prepared to work with a party Bridges thinks has committed the most significant breach of the electoral law in the country’s history.
What weak standards he has. Although if he did rule out working with New Zealand First he would also have to rule out working with the National Party given its recent behaviour.
If you want to witness a beating then listen to this interview of Bridges by Kim Hill. I love the way she slows down her questions at the precise moment she delivers the coup de grace.
It is funny that the leader of the party being investigated by the SFO for rorting the election system should be demanding that the leader of the party who is not accused of anything should take action against the leader of a third party that appears to have been really cute with the law but has not necessarily done anything illegal.
What is that word starting with “H” again?