One of the great things about the EFA is that donations over $20,000 must be declared within 10 working days. Because of that, we have today learned National received $30,000 from something called the Road Transport Trust on August 27. The Trust is clearly a front – there is no record of it on the web other than its appearance on the donations declaration.
Wait, a trust? Isn’t funneling funds through trusts to hide the identity of the actual donor banned under the EFA? Yup. Section 24 requires that when donations are funded from contributions the identities of the contributors who gave over $1000 be revealed too. That information does not accompany the donation report. Perhaps some journo will ring the Electoral Commission (04 474 0670) and find out why the contributors to the Trust’s donation are not identified pursuant to the Act.
So, who’s behind the Trust? Going by the name, the obvious guess is Tony Friedlander, head of the Road Transport Forum who organised the pro-National truck strike (which, incidentally, involved just 20% of trucks), former National Cabinet Minister, major donor to National’s Free Speech Coalition, and brother of Hollow Men star Michael Friedlander.
The address of the Road Transport Trust given on the return is Level 3, 93 Boulcott Street, Wellington. That’s just ten minutes walk from Parliament. So, doubtless, some enterprising journo will pop down to see if they can’t discover who is behind this trust, why they are using a trust to hide their identities, and what they expect from National in return for the money.
[Update: Tane’s interweb skills show that the Road Transport Forum is registered at the same address as the Trust.]