Eerily enough Nick Smith has dropped out of public attention, at least for now.
Jake Bezzant has instead taken Smith’s place.
I have watched Bezzant for a while. He was meant to be one of National’s bright new things, having been selected in then safe Upper Harbour. If things were normal he would be in Parliament right now.
But his selection did not meet with approval from within National’s ranks and the whispering campaign started. They really would eat their young for political advantage.
These rumours made me predict that Bezzant should win the seat, even against Labour’s impressive Vanushi Walters, but it could be tight and he might be one scandal away from losing.
Then the scandal happened as CV accuracy problems appeared. In September last year I said:
Senior National MPs were warned by letter dated July 19, 2020. It makes you wonder why they did not take any action at the time although to be fair this was the time when it was announced that Andrew Falloon was standing down from Parliament for “health reasons” and it then quickly emerged that the cause of his depression was the drunken sending of inappropriate graphic material to a woman who was not his wife and who was actually a teenager. The headspace to deal with yet another crisis involving a National candidate clearly was not there.
Instead of deselecting him National soldiered through and lost the seat.
Two days ago a podcast Whips, Chains and Brains hit Spotify. The description said that listeners would “hear about Tarryns last relationship with an up and coming member of the National Party. We dive into the rumours and discuss Tarryn’s experience during their time together and what’s happened since then. We hope that this can shed some light on how the law needs to change and helps people everywhere to become more aware of their own trauma patterns, feel empowered to leave and stand up for yourself.”
This morning the podcast hit political twitter and the rest is now history. Henry Cooke at Stuff has this description:
Former National candidate Jake Bezzant is no longer a member of the party as serious allegations against him from an ex-girlfriend emerge.
A podcast was released publicly on Monday featuring allegations that Bezzant had impersonated the ex-girlfriend, using explicit images of her in order to impersonate her in sexting conversations with other men.
The podcast featured Tarryn Flintoft, who said the behaviour was continuous during and after her relationship with Bezzant, and was still happening in recent weeks about a year after they had broken up …
She said she complained to the police about the matter, who investigated it but could not press charges as Bezzant was not technically breaking the law.
Flintoft alleges that Bezzant then taunted her about the matter not progressing to the courts.
Is Jake apologetic about what he did? Nope …
Bezzant was asked to respond to the allegations by Stuff. He did not address them directly but said there were “two sides to every story”.
“Personal relationship break ups sometimes get messy. Two sides to every story. There is more than just her and I involved so I am going to respect that and so I am not going to discuss it. This needs to be seen in the context of a relationship break up,” Bezzant said in a written statement.
And another allegation has appeared:
National party's issues with Jake Bezzant are only going to get worse. This on Facebook in the last hour. Claims he earlier did it to someone else who he went to school with.
— Bob Miller (@BobbyMiller202) June 2, 2021
The suggestion that Bezzant’s actions do not constitute a harmful digital communication is interesting. Section 22 of the Act requires an intent that the material is published with the intent of causing harm. I guess posting it with the intent of obtaining personal jollies may not qualify. If so the law should be amended. Posting intimate photographs of someone without their consent should be an offence. Louisa Wall’s bill seeking to achieve this should be supported.
The sense of self entitlement and sleaze from within National’s ranks is starting to become overwhelming.