National’s electoral returns and the Donghua Liu donation

Written By: - Date published: 11:22 am, February 25th, 2015 - 41 comments
Categories: john key, national, uncategorized - Tags: ,

National has been busy constructing a story around recent news concerning Donghua Liu’s donation of $25,000.  The proposition is that John Key went to Donghua Liu’s place for dinner, that Liu then gave a significant donation but it was not to the party or to Liu’s BFF Maurice Williamson who found Liu a house, set up meetings with successive Immigration Ministers for him and even sacrificed his ministerial career by interfering in a police prosecution of Liu.  No not to the top man John Key, not to the National Party, not to Williamson, but to a nondescript back bencher who tagged along with Key to the dinner.

How likely is that?

The motivation is clear.  If news of a donation by Liu to National had been published the day before Williamson resigned for interfering in a police prosecution it would have been incendiary.

In the Herald story National claimed that the donation was to the Botany Cabinet Club.  This particular club has the unique feature that donations to it or at least the Liu donation do not appear to be recorded in National’s yearly return of donations.  Apparently this particular cabinet club works under different rules to the rest of them.

Jamie-Lee has now filed his return of electoral expenses.  It is interesting that the Herald [may have been] given three days heads up on the story.  Perhaps National saw this as a way to lead the story with its own framing in particular suggesting that the donation was to Ross and not National.  The news was obviously going to break anyway as soon as Ross’s return was published.

I have had a look through the returns.  The figures are impressive.  There are some unusual features:

  • National spent on average $20,356 in each seat it contested.  By contrast Labour spent $9,199.84.  When you add in the party campaign figures ($2,558,211.53 verses $1,269,298.91) National spent twice as much on attributable expenses as Labour ($3.8 million verses $1.9 million).
  • Nikki Kaye is the only person to not declare any donations.  Either her local organisation is well funded or she has made a mistake which she may wish to correct.
  • The total of donations declared by National candidates is $1.262 million with over 80% of this being funded from National head office.
  • Talleys were a major private contributor giving $37,500 to different campaigns.
  • In 26 of the 41 National held seats the only donor was head office.  In the remaining 15 there was a single donor in nine of those seats with Talleys being the donor in three of those seats.  So in only six seats were there more than two private donors.
  • There is no sign of any Cabinet Club donations being recorded in any of the individual returns apart from in Ross’s return.

It seems clear that cabinet club donations are collected centrally, recorded in the party’s annual return and then distributed out to the local electorates.  National previously said that since Cabinet Club donations were declared everything was above board.

And the story, at least in the way that National presents it, keeps changing. According to TV3 a couple of days ago:

Last year Mr Key’s office denied a dinner he had with Liu was a ‘Cabinet Club’ fundraiser. But today the story changed, after pictures emerged of the Prime Minister meeting Liu at his Remuera home – a meeting that at the height of last year’s donations saga, Mr Key didn’t want to talk about.

His office at the time said the mystery dinner wasn’t a contentious fundraiser, but today Mr Key said he knew it was a Cabinet Club dinner.

And …

Liu’s links to National have hurt the Government – most notably last year’s resignation by Maurice Williamson as a minister for interfering in Liu’s ongoing police case.

At the time, Mr Key was keen to keep his distance, admitting they’d met, but wouldn’t give specifics. However Mr Key’s office later said the pair met at a National Party fundraiser.

But today’s pictures reveal that fundraiser was actually the private dinner at Liu’s home – complete with a smiling Mr Key and National’s Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross.

When asked last year if it was a Cabinet Club dinner, the Prime Minister’s office replied in a statement simply saying no.

So what happened?  Maybe Key employs absolutely amateurish staff who put out information without running it past the boss to make sure that it is accurate.  Or maybe not.

So Key denied last year the dinner was a Cabinet Club dinner.  And his staff said it was not a contentious fundraiser the day after TV3 broke the news about cabinet clubs and on the same day that news about contentious Cabinet Club meetings for the Chinese was released.  Then this year it is said to be a cabinet club fundraiser but the donation is not declared by National even though it seems that it has declared other cabinet club donations.

The whole story is as fishy as Talley’s best products.

 

41 comments on “National’s electoral returns and the Donghua Liu donation”

  1. There’s no reason yet to believe that the Herald was given a heads up. Candidate returns had to be filed on 20 January, but the Commission doesn’t place them on-line until after the the party returns get in, about four weeks later. There’s no reason at present to believe that an enterprising Herald journalist didn’t simply go in and inspect the returns at the Electoral Commission 🙂

    • Tom Gould 1.1

      Indeed. The notion that the Tories and the Herald are in cahoots is preposterous. People who think otherwise need to get some guts and join the right side, eh?

    • mickysavage 1.2

      You might be right Graeme. Time will tell!

    • tracey 1.3

      Graeme

      Would the returning of the donation have shown up, and how would anyone know to look for it?

    • veutoviper 1.4

      Well put! LOL. Good to see someone undertaking some proactive investigation.

      BUT – how did they get the photos of the dinner?

      • One Anonymous Bloke 1.4.1

        After the slap in the face I expect Liu supplied them.

      • Clemgeopin 1.4.2

        “BUT – how did they get the photos of the dinner?”

        May be the ‘honest’-‘non corrupt’-‘the great man of guts’, John Key, had a copy himself in his top drawer and gave it quietly through his honest ‘blind trust’ to his propaganda rag, NZ Herald, to double cross the ‘honest’-‘non corrupt’-‘silly fool’, Jamie Lee Ross?

        Walter Scott foretold this a while ago:

        “Oh what a tangled web National weave,
        When first they practice to deceive!

  2. Jonas 2

    There is also a broader issue here, and that is the role of Chinese donations in the NZ political system. They come from a culture where ‘donations’ or gifts to local party officials is an integral part of life, hence the never ending anti-corruption campaign. Donations from Mainland Chinese business men or women, with only tenuous links to NZ, is a dangerous development. For the PM to fund raise in this manner, and then cover it up, is completely unacceptable.

    • Olwyn 2.1

      A further problem is that the behaviour of these right wing politicians is disgraceful by any cultural norm, and I can’t help but wonder what people like Mr Liu make of being feted one minute and disowned the next. They neither adhere to the constraints of our system nor the mutual respect and obligation inherent to theirs – their levels of expedience and callous indifference to others are simply staggering.

  3. This perhaps puts the Liu-Cunliffe smear in a new light. I’m thinking that National knew that the issue could hurt them after Williamson, and so prepared a smear against Cunliffe so that they could defend the donations along the lines of “everyone does it”, if it turned out that the press found out about Liu’s donations to National.

    I’ve always wondered why it was such a weak smear. Surely they could have concocted something better.

    Of course it ended up working better than expected because the press never picked up on this particular donations to National, and because – as Frank Macskasy has proved – people in the Herald and TV3 were acting as de facto National party press secretaries.

  4. ghostwhowalksnz 4

    I thought National was constantly squeezing its local branches for money?

    Then we see it was really the other way around.

    As an incorporated society doenst national have to publish figures on its accounts, not just the ‘declared’ income and expenditure which has lots of legal gaps. ie polling money doesnt have to declared as expenditure

    • tracey 4.1

      I don’t think an incorporated has to publish details on the minutiae of its accounts.

    • mickysavage 4.2

      This will surprise you ghost but National is not an incorporated society, neither is Labour. They do have to declare donations each year under the electoral act however.

      • tracey 4.2.1

        So national has to list all its donors but the party would be responsible for any “mistakes” not the candidates?

  5. tracey 5

    Once national put Jamie-Lee Ross tot he front on this issue you know Key has already contradicted himself at least once and they don’t want him speaking of it any more. That’s the pattern.

  6. ankerawshark 6

    I posted this on open mike this morning just before you post went up Micky. I know it might not read so well, but please excuse, very limited time today.

    I felt so incensed about the whole Dong Liu donations saga and the spin about Labour and Liu, that I contacted the Press Council last night and asked them to re-consider Frank Mac’s submission to them about the Herald’s claims that Dong Liu donated $$$$ to Labour. The complaint from Frank wasn’t upheld, because the Herald maintained there was “more to come” about Liu and Labour. And of course nothing has come about Labour and Liu, but indeed we find out it was National receiving donations.

    Last night I re-submitted Frank’s complaint to the Press Council, copied a link about National’s donations and asked them to re-consider Frank’s complaint. (hope that’s o.k. Frank???? didn’t know how to contact you to get your permission);

    Much to my surprize I had an email this morning saying it would be re-presented to the council.

    I will keep you updated!

    • mickysavage 6.1

      Thanks ankerawshark. Please do.

    • Lanthanide 6.2

      The press council shouldn’t use the “more to come” as a reason to dismiss a complaint – it should be put into a pending/holding state until such time as the Herald ponies up the goods. Then, if they fail to pony up the goods, that can additionally weigh into the complaint as further evidence.

    • Pasupial 6.3

      ankerawshark

      The only times I’ve communicated with MacSkasy have been on comment threads of TDB. However, the About page of his own blog does have a gmail address (no idea if it’s still current, or how often he checks it):

      https://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/about-3/

      • ankerawshark 6.3.1

        Hi Pasupial.

        I have left a message for Frank on his gmail address, but to date haven’t heard.

    • mary_a 6.4

      Hey thanks for this @ ankerawshark. Look forward to further posts from you on this one.

      Have to give it to Frank Mac, he dedicates a lot of time and effort on various contentious issues on behalf of ordinary Kiwi folk, attempting to get to the truth. Doing the work of lazy msm it seems!

    • ianmac 6.5

      Well done ankershank! Was pretty annoyed back then when reading Frank’s complaint and now that it might reawaken is good. Pity that the Press Council can do very little except say naughty, naughty.

    • linda 6.6

      labour should go lui for lies and the herald

  7. wyndham 7

    I see David Parker is quizzing key at question time today – – – q.10.

    10. Hon DAVID PARKER to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by the statement made on his behalf last year about his contact with Mr Liu that: “As Prime Minister and the leader of the National Party, Mr Key attends a number of functions up and down the country which are attended by a large number of people. While we don’t have a record of who attends these events, Mr Key recalls seeing Mr Liu at various functions, including a dinner as part of a National Party fundraiser”?

    • mary_a 7.1

      @ wyndham – thanks for this info. I shall watch out for Parker’s question and listen to the sleazy, slimy response drivel from Key.

    • Clemgeopin 7.2

      Here is the video. Incisive questions. Seems to me that David Parker KNOWS much more and more questions will follow. (It is a shame we mostly have quite an useless, biased or RW bought up media!)

      http://www.inthehouse.co.nz/video/35809

      As an aside, also watch the speech from Ron Mark about ISIL and guts and his EXCELLENT telling off to the idiot, Goldsmith who was behaving like a prick when Ron Mark was speaking. You must watch it! The first two minutes of this link:

      http://www.inthehouse.co.nz/video/35815

      • mickysavage 7.2.1

        Yep the meeting with Woodhouse is potentially dynamite. If it happened shortly after the donation was made there would be a very bad perception created …

  8. irascible 8

    Botany has been ill served by its National Party MPs ever since the electorate was formed… first Pansy Wong forced to resign over using taxpayer funded travel to boost her family business in China and now JL Ross acting as the bagman between Donghua Liu and John Key in search of largesse for their campaigns locally and nationally.
    If this is how crassly theNats treat their electors in a “safe” seat then its no wonder Key feels justified in his lying over this donation scandal.

  9. Tautoko Mangō Mata 9

    I see the Herald has made available the returns for donations and expenses for the candidates in last year’s election.
    The dates for the Jami Lee Ross $25,000 are published.

    “Money in politics / Our crowdsourcing experiment: How you can lay bare candidate expenses and donations”
    Article by Jared Savage

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11407714

  10. Clemgeopin 10

    “So Key denied last year the dinner was a Cabinet Club dinner. And his staff said it was not a contentious fundraiser the day after TV3 broke the news about cabinet clubs and on the same day that news about contentious Cabinet Club meetings for the Chinese was released. Then this year it is said to be a cabinet club fundraiser but the donation is not declared by National even though it seems that it has declared other cabinet club donations”

    I have ABSOLUTELY no doubt in my mind that New Zealand at present being led by a government that is corrupt, dishonest, deceptive, cunning, dangerous and harmful to our country, its ethos and its common people.

  11. NZJester 11

    Those cabinet club donations that are all so called anonymous donations seam to add up to quite a large figure and a lot of people would have to donate multiple times for them to get those sort of anonymous figures. How is it that they can also claim them as anonymous as those people donating the money are all there sitting at the events so they know they had to donate to get in. To me it seams to break the following rules listed on http://www.elections.org.nz/parties-candidates/registered-political-parties/party-donations/about-annual-returns-party-donatio-5
    (Donations made in the following ways are not considered to be anonymous:
    where a known or identifiable donor asks that the donation be treated as anonymous.
    Concealing the identity of a donor when the donor is not anonymous is an offence.)

    The cabinet club seams to be designed to do nothing but try to conceal the identity of a known donor and the donor is not really anonymous.

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