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.
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.