Nats laundering donations (as ever)

Written By: - Date published: 10:09 am, February 28th, 2015 - 28 comments
Categories: accountability, national - Tags: , ,

Who owns your local Nat MP? You’re supposed to be able to find out who donated to them, but in most cases you can’t:

Loophole: National Party donors stay secret

An analysis of electoral finance declarations shows more than 80 per cent of donations to National Party candidates were channelled through party headquarters in a loophole described as akin to legal “laundering”.

National’s heavy reliance on funding candidates with donations from the party – shown in a Herald study to account for more than $1m out of $1.2m raised by their candidates for the 2014 general election – was a “striking use of electoral law that appears to be laundering the money”, said Otago University political science lecturer Bryce Edwards.

“It’s not illegal and it’s up to different interpretations whether it’s ethical or not, but there should now be heat on politicans to explain what’s going on and to tighten up this loophole,” he said.

Labour Party general secretary Tim Barnett said Labour operated a system which decentralised fundraising to a local level and this structure, allied with the stricter disclosure levels for candidate donations, was inherently more transparent.

Donation laundering is an old habit for National. From 2006:

The National Party has admitted that its use of secret trusts violates the intent of electoral law and must now reveal the big money backers behind the Waitemata Trust, Labour Strategist Pete Hodgson said today.

Over 92 per cent of National’s 2005 election spend-up was financed through blind trusts. Around two-thirds of National’s funding – or $1.2 million – was laundered through the National Party operated Waitemata Trust under the name of Robert Browne.

“Gerry Brownlee admitted this morning that this violates the intent of the law, but unfortunately current legislation is powerless to stop it. We have always relied on the good will of parties to not abuse the system, but it appears that we can’t afford to do that any longer.

See also.

While National (with the aid of the Herald) ran a successful dirty politics hit on Labour over a non-existant donations scandal in the run-up to the last election, it is National that runs these large scale laundering operations. Makes you wonder what they’re hiding.

Time to get all private money out of politics and state fund political parties.

28 comments on “Nats laundering donations (as ever)”

  1. dv 1

    ALL donations over $100 to be published on a public web database within a month.
    NO trust donations allowed.

  2. ianmac 2

    And I thought that that National Party Slush Trust Fund had been banned. Tricky stuff.

  3. tc 3

    Remember the EFA was evil and democracy was under attack till nact got in tweaked it to suit themselves so this practice would not get caught by the act.

    The herald is nothing more than an extension of the nact pr spin cycle, there is nothing here that surprises me at all even Browncoals ‘good will of the parties’ line which hed need to rehearse so as not to piss himself laughing at the delivery of it.

    Talk about rubbing nz’s noses in the deceptive behaviour they have elevated to a well honed delivery mechanism.

  4. ianmac 4

    See also :”You can’t have it both ways
    by Andrew Geddis
    The National Party’s treatment of Donghua Liu’s donation is strikingly at odds with with how it treated all the other donations it received. That’s not only wrong, but it may even be illegal….”
    Andrew explains the dubious legality of this and suggests, ” I wonder if the Electoral Commission might not like to send a “please explain” letter to clarify exactly what went on … and consider whether perhaps someone has done this or this.” (Laws arround donations.)

  5. Then to soften the blow for the National party, the Herald publishes a story about why businesses donate to political parties, (with a focus on Talleys), and puts a picture of Damien O’Connor to accompany the article……despite the majority of Talley donation going to National. I am really sickened that so much media is political propaganda.

  6. Kriss X 6

    80% of National Party donations are were channelled through party headquarters in a loophole.

    However, to give balance, we need to know how this compares with other parties.

      • ghostwhowalksnz 6.1.1

        The reality is most MPs self fund their campaigns-
        I think the Greens have a very Mormon tithing arrangement thats compulsory but labours might be more informal.

        Nationals trick hides this , as being a very capitalist party, its a do it your self .

        It baffles me and others that Dongha Liu would give so much money to a minor electorate MP who has no significance, and is not his electorate MP ( he lives in Epsom)

        My guess is that he gave the money for Maurice Williamson, who was an important minister ( for Building) and was the go to guy for Liu.

        I think Williamson refused to play ball and wouldnt be the fall guy so a round about way was to use Ross, who surprise surprise is now a junior whip.

        • KJT

          It is not the political funding that is at the root of the problem.

          It is the money and positions given to politicians by grateful corporate beneficiaries of their policies, after Parliament.

  7. Peter Pan 7

    “Time to get all private money out of politics and state fund political parties.”

    While I completely agree that there should be 100% transparency within politics whether local, national or even a leadership campaign I could never agree with that the state should fund political parties.

    If a party’s idea’s/policies/performance isn’t enough to inspire its “believers” to fund it then those who don’t believe it shouldn’t have to be taxed to support it. Imagine the most objectionable political party that you can and now imagine being taxed to support it.

  8. saarbo 8

    As the influence of large corporations increases, the need for state funding of political campaigns becomes more important. It also come as no surprise of the Labour MP’s that were funded by the likes of the Vela’s and Bob Jones.

  9. Michael 9

    Interesting to see that Michael Woodhouse received 3 donations, of $5,000 each from his Party’s slush funds. I wonder whether those donations stipulated payment to Woodhouse after laundering took place? I wonder, too whether Crest Cleaning Services or interests associated with the McLauchlan family donated to the Nats?

  10. Paul Campbell 10

    Aren’t many of these ‘donations’ from ‘Cabinet Clubs’? money paid by the rich for preferential access to our cabinet ministers, and as we’ve discovered, people like mr Liu to Key himself.

  11. HumPrac 11

    Quote by Gerry Brownlee – “We have always relied on the good will of parties to not abuse the system”
    That is either naive or just an excuse.
    It could translate as “Parties have always abused the system”.

  12. RedBaronCV 12

    I too read the story about the companies making donations – ( 5).

    Now how many of these donations are being deducted from income before tax is paid (so that us taxpayers are stumping up) and does the IRD intend to investigate.

    Could any of these donations be construed as bribes and should some other action be taken in those cases.

  13. irascible 13


    The Botany electorate has been let down by the National Party ever since the electorate was formed.

    Botany voters are fed up with MPs who repeatedly show both poor political judgement and questionable ethical behaviour.

    The short lived career of Pansy Wong ,who was forced to resign over allegations of the misuse of taxpayer-funded travel while furthering her family’s business interests in China, and the current MP, Jami-Lee Ross, who has featured prominently in Hager’s book : Dirty Politics and is deeply embroiled in the ongoing Cabinet Club- Cash for Access scandals swirling around the discredited Chinese businessman, Donghua Liu does not present a positive image for the National Party in Botany.

    Jami-Lee Ross’ unashamed willingness to act as the Botany Bagman for Donghua Liu and the conduit for John Key to solicit largesse for his local election campaign and the National Party coffers amply demonstrate to the Botany electors that he lacks sound political judgement and ethical behaviour. In other political environments soliciting cash for access to the Prime Minister from individuals like Donghua Liu would result in immediate calls for disciplinary action by Parliament and the member’s party organisation. It would even result in a resignation.

    In keeping with the calls by The NZ Herald opinionista, John Armstrong, and those made by John Key during the election campaign, for David Cunliffe to resign over an eleven year old letter of enquiry into Mr Liu’s application for residency we believe that as Mr Ross’ involvement with Donghua Liu’s of greater significance involving both providing access for John Key to Donghua Liu and an active solicitation of money that he should follow the example of his predecessor, Pansy Wong, and offer his resignation both as a National Party whip and as an MP.

    Links provided to:
    TV3 Brook Sabin report: 23.February .2015
    NZ Herald: News item: 14 December 2010
    NZ Herald: John Armstrong column. 14 June 2014.
    MickySavage. The Standard. 22.February. 2015

    • Sacha 13.1

      “Botany voters are fed up with MPs who repeatedly show both poor political judgement and questionable ethical behaviour”

      If that was true they would have voted differently, for many elections. Whatever they are looking for, it sure isn’t honesty, integrity, etc..

  14. mary-a 14

    ALL donations to ALL political parties must by law be transparent, open to scrutiny and published, including donors’ details.

    At the moment, too much dirty money is being laundered, allowed through ‘legal’ loopholes.

  15. English Breakfast 15

    Can you name the precise law, and relevant section, that National have broken here? It seems to me they’ve just found a smart way to apply donations. There’ no Electoral Finance Act scandal here as far as I can see.

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