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National’s donation reporting problem

Written By: - Date published: 7:19 am, February 19th, 2020 - 25 comments
Categories: election 2020, election funding, electoral commission, electoral systems, greens, labour, national, nz first, same old national, uncategorized - Tags:

Today we may know the identities of three of the four people charged with illegal partitioning of the loan to National.

The disclosure that there is a second donation that was partitioned makes you wonder if this is a serial problem for National.

I thought I would have a look at recent donation returns and yes it appears there is a pattern of unusual donations happening.

Labour’s return for election year 2017 suggested that it received $878k in donations over $15k.  And that it received $732k in donations up to $15k.  The big donors were the usual, a couple of Trade Unions, some philanthropists and a few artists who had donated some of the proceeds from Party art auction fundraisers.

So the big donations were slightly more than the small donations.

By comparison in 2017 National declared $1 million in donations over $15k but a whopping $3.5 million in donations up to $15k. Either they ran a prodigious number of cake stalls or there is something disturbing in this result. The SFO charges suggest that at least $100k should be transferred from the latter category to the former category.

In 2018, a non election year, Labour filed a more modest return. It received $69,000 in over $15k donations from two donors, Jacinda herself and Robert Smellie who I have met and who is a thoroughly decent person. Labour declared a total of $105k in the up to $15k donation category.

That year the Greens declared $555k in donations over $15k again from their MPs and also a generous woman called Betty Harris. They declared a total of $48k in donations under $15k.

By comparison National’s was eye watering. The party declared a modest $95k in donations over $15k but a staggering $647k in donations under $15k. Again at least $100k should be transferred from the latter category to the former category.

I have not analysed NZ First’s returns for obvious reasons.

It appears that National has this down to a fine art. Why let pesky reporters dig into the identity of donors when with some well judged partitioning their identity can be hidden?

The solution is simple. All donations over $1,000 should require the donor’s identity to be disclosed. It would be easy for the parties to adapt to this, the information has to be collected anyway to ensure the combined totals of donations from individual donors are reported properly.

Alternatively we could have state funding of political parties. Have a pot of money to be distributed in accordance with agreed criteria then get rid of the effect of private donations.

Disclosure: I am a regular donor to the Labour Party. I also donated to the Greens $1,500 last election.

Update: The four accused have been named.

From Newsroom:

Former National MP Jami-Lee Ross is one of the four men charged by the Serious Fraud Office in the National Party donations case – alongside a Chinese community leader who reportedly gave $100,000 to the party, and two others.

Name suppression for Ross and his co-accused Zhang Yikun, Zheng Shijia, and Zheng Hengjia was lifted by the Auckland District Court on Wednesday afternoon after the latter trio applied to end the secrecy. Ross’ lawyers did not object. 

25 comments on “National’s donation reporting problem ”

  1. Ross 1

    A true statesman wouldn’t get involved in a another party’s electoral affairs when it is likely to be seen as hypocrisy and grandstanding. As has become clear, Simon is no statesman.

    Why do political parties need donations? Why not ban all donations? If parties want to publicise their exploits, they can do so online or in front of a camera. Or, if they want to spend money, they can spend their own.

  2. Rob 2

    I am of the opinion that National threw the last election because they know what is coming and did not want to be in the power seats when it hit.

    What is coming is coming, they know that and so I believe that everything National has done since falling to the Opposition seats has been intentional.

    Those who know know, nothing in politics happens by chance or by accident. When Paula was selected as campaign manager it seemed such an intentional setup to lose in the Booths. They cannot be seen to be throwing the election but they can strategically sabotage their chances.

    I can think of no other explanation for National's systemic display of political stupidity.

    • tc 2.1

      They've got a caucus full of what's left now their movers and shakers have gone after 3 terms of plunder. Joyce, Ryall, Findlayson, English etc

      What better way to clear down the decks and renew than let this version of national do what it does best and let the voters determine the hollowmens next move.

    • mauī 2.2

      What is coming?

  3. I will admit to reluctantly coming to admire the National Party and their two spokespeople, B & B!

    Such breath-taking hypocrisy, such singleness of purpose (to destroy the coalition) regardless of facts or natural justice or the good of the country, such bare-faced lying – well, I could never be a politician, I blush too easily.

    I'm afraid I can only shake my head in wonder at their effrontery!

    • Anne 3.1

      I could never be a politician, I blush too easily.

      Oh gosh same here. I would start stammering and stuttering and my eyes would go shifty. 🙂

      In all seriousness:

      The disclosure that there is a second donation that was partitioned makes you wonder if this is a serial problem for National.

      Of course it is. National has been doing it on and off for decades. What about those trusts they set up (1970s was it?). That was all about hiding big donations and the identities of those who donated. ACT started doing it in the 1990s. Where did they get the idea from? The Nats of course.

    • bwaghorn 3.2

      I just hope someone can link bridges to the second donation he has been categorical about knowing nothing about it . Hed be fucked if someone proves otherwise.

  4. Observer Tokoroa 4

    The Movement of Money

    The only reason both National and the Coalition receives Money from known or unknown donors is for bribery from the donor. Wealthy citizens paying for privileges.

    This applies to would -be political groups as well as major political groups.

    Political Parties should not accept Money. To do so should be made a clear cut criminal offence. Any person trafficking in bias or donated money should serve a serious amount of time in Prison.

    Democracy is alien to money theft and bias.

  5. Observer Tokoroa 5

    The Fairness of Politics

    In my opinion, no Political Party shall have more wealthy persons in its Caucus, than any other Political Party.

    Wealthy shall include the words : Money, Education, Health, Accessability, Notable Understanding Of NZ History.

    Parliament and Democracy itself is not to be the present dagger held entirely by the Wealthy.

  6. aj 6

    I still cannot get my head around the fact that Bloomberg has spent over US$400M on election advertising. Not trying to derail your thread, but to highlight the corrosive power of wealthy people buying political clout.

  7. mac1 7

    Bloomberg has so far spent $1.70 per eligible voter in the US. For NZ that is equivalent to spending of $6 million.
    The figure of $6 million is about half of what all parties received in donations in 2017 to give what Bloomberg has spent some context.
    The most efficient major party was Labour in 2017 which received 14% ($1.6m) of the total donations in 2017 ($11,425,000) and gained 36% of the party vote cast.
    National received 40% donations for 44% vote.
    Greens 7.4% of the money for 6% vote.
    NZF 4.7% of donations for 7.2% vote.
    ACT received 6.8% for 0.5% of the vote
    TOP received 20% of the donations for 2.4% vote.

  8. Observer Tokoroa 8

    Yes aj

    Democracy – which belongs to all the people – must be kept clean, It does not belong to Wealthy thieves.

    One day the wealthy will discover their crimes against Democracy.

  9. Ad 9

    I got no problem with Jamie Lee Ross going down via the SFO. He can burn.

  10. Tiger Mountain 10

    https://www.newshub.co.nz/home.html

    I speculated on the day the SFO look at National’s initial $100,000 was announced, that Jami Lee Ross would likely be one of those charged.

    Simon Bridges certainly knows what the underside of buses are for!

  11. Robert Guyton 11

    "Our clients are proud New Zealanders and philanthropists. They were urged to follow a process and are now deeply disappointed at being caught up in a donation’s fiasco. "

    Kiwiblot

  12. Drowsy M. Kram 12

    MS, thanks for those amazing numbers; will any of our MSM 'journalists' be investigating?

    Donations to Labour (2017): >15k – 878,000. <15k – 732,000. Low:High ratio = 0.8.
    Donations to Labour (2018): >15k – 69,000. <15k – 105,000. Low:High ratio = 1.5.

    Donations to National (2017): >15k – 1,000,000. <15k – 3,500,000. Low:High ratio = 3.5.
    Donations to National (2018): >15k – 95,000. <15k – 647,000. Low:High ratio = 6.8.

    In both years the National:Labour 'ratio of ratios' is remarkably stable, at around 4.4:1.

    Agree with the nature of the proposed solution, but suggest that a threshold (for declaration) of $1,000 is too high – why not $100?

    https://www.smh.com.au/politics/nsw/cash-only-100-political-donations-cap-in-nsw-20190917-p52sap.html

    • mickysavage 12.1

      I have no problem with that. I thought $1k would stop partitioning happening but even lower amounts would make it even more difficult to hide.

  13. observer 13

    At least with JLR being named it should end the fantasy among (a few) leftish voters that he was Our Guy, simply by being Not a Nat. He won't win Botany, or come close, and that's no loss. Irrelevant to the party vote.

    But when we get frustrated at the current government, never forget the government we were saved from. Ross and Bridges, best buddies, Cabinet Ministers together. No conversations recorded, no revelations, no news, no charges. The truth about National would have been hidden from the public, maybe forever.

    • Lettuce 13.1

      And JLR and SD might still be happily making the beast with two backs without the knowledge of their significant others…

  14. Observer Tokoroa 14

    Unexpected / Unwanted Military Man

    Will Simon Bridges announce to the Voters of New Zealand Democracy that he will not silently sneak a Chinese Military High Official into Aotearoa, into the Beehive, and into the Parliament of New Zealand and into the Caucus of National.

    As a Caucus member, he has available all the access to the New Zeland Data.

    Is Simon Gutless ?

    Will Simon reveal to the Public of New Zealand that a full scale military Foreigner has been thrown into our nation without so much as a word ?

    Further, will he seek a full apology from the NewZealnd Public.

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