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Polity: Kim Dotcom’s 5% gambit

Written By: - Date published: 8:39 am, February 12th, 2014 - 91 comments
Categories: accountability, activism, democratic participation, political alternatives, Politics - Tags: , , , ,

Salmond-Dotcom-GCSB-meetingThe original of this post is here at Polity.

As readers will know, Kim Dotcom has promised to wind up his party if it isn’t polling 5% by the time the ballots are printed, and then throw his (considerable) resources behind another party of his choosing. He tweets:

If #InternetParty won’t poll 5+% before ballot papers are printed we’ll self destruct & put our weight behind a party adopting our policies.

I think it is almost certain that the Internet Party will not be polling 5% at any point this year. The party’s figurehead cannot legally run for anything, they will have no TV presence, and no debate presence, either. Further, the party’s policy offerings are “thin” to say the least, not covering the issues that the overwhelming majority of New Zealanders say they care most about. Together with a crowded field in a close contest, all this spells near certain failure. (The TV3 revelation that one in five people said they would “consider” voting for the Internet Party – when specifically pushed on the subject – does nothing to change my mind on this.)

If I am right about that, then come ballot-printing day Mr Dotcom will be throwing his weight in with someone else. And by “his weight,” I presume he means large buckets of money. That sets up an silent auction for parties to compete for Dotcom’s money on the basis of policy promises, first and foremost about Dotcom’s own extradition case. That is, if parties decide they want to play.

I think the opposition parties should all take a pass.

To me, it all sounds pretty icky. One of the reasons the left parties worked hard to try and make election funding fairer in the late 2000s was to limit the influence of individuals seeking to essentially buy government policy for cash. (These measures were, naturally, rejected by the right, citing freedom of speech and freedom of spending and so on.) Breaking it down, this gambit looks exactly like a convluted version of a rich guy offering up cash in exchange for personally favourable policies. Yuck.

We’re now in this odd position where left parties that actively compete in the policy space for Dotcom’s affections will be hypocrites and, by the same token, many of the right wingers who would cry foul about that will be hypocrites, too.

91 comments on “Polity: Kim Dotcom’s 5% gambit”

  1. Chooky 1

    Most of the Left parties already support the Dot Com policy?

    …ie no GCSB spying on New Zealanders without a specific warrant….. and for a good reason signed off with politicians held responsible and accountable

    … a review of the GCSB and a public exposure of the 80 or so New Zealanders it has been spying on illegitimately..pre NACTs law change with the help of Peter Dunne

    ….an opening up of the Dot Com case with those involved in illegal activity held accountable

    I would not be writing off Dot Com …there are too many young voters at stake, who may not otherwise vote…they are potential voters for the Left down the track ( cf the Pirate Party in Europe)

    • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 1.1

      +1 Chooky

      [Although am unsure whether The Internet Party has any official policy yet!
      What is clear is the things Dot Com has been railing against are things that the Left wing parties would address – National are the ones creating the fiasco.]

  2. Once was Pete 2

    I am sure you are right that they will not reach 5% and I would hope all parties would take a pass.

    • PapaMike 2.1

      I wonder whether the so called “Internet Party” was ever a real goer, but a very clever, again, move by Dotcom to move the position towards him sponsoring whoever will set him free should the extradition case against him be found.
      Norman seems to have fallen for that.

  3. Tracey 3

    Regardless of your beliefs about Dotcom he is currently awaiting trial for extradition for alleged criminal behaviour. It would be odd indeed for apolitical party to back him.

    Keep it tacit, through policies such as GCSB…

    The Greens do danger tot he ground they hold on political principle if they embrace him directly within the party.

  4. Lanthanide 4

    I doubt they’ll crack 2-3% at any stage.

    Also it doesn’t make sense to, on one hand, say Kim Dotcom has buckets of cash, and on the other hand say they won’t have any television presence.

    The other parties rely on public money for radio/TV advertising, but Kim Dotcom manages to get headlines all by himself for free, and surely has the change lying around to run his own TV commercials and address if he wants to.

    Compare Kim Dotcom’s political aspirations to Brendan Horan’s announced-and-then-sunk “independents party”.

  5. BM 5

    I wouldn’t be surprised if this causes a major split in the Green party.

    Rod Donald would be turning in his grave at the bullshit Norman is trying to pull.

    Norman has no mana at all.

    • Bearded Git 5.1

      All Norman has said is he won’t support extradition that is carried out illegally and unfairly.

      He has been completely open about visiting KDC to persuade him not to set up a party because this may return Shonkey, the last thing KDC wants.

      What’s your problem with this BM?

      • BM 5.1.1

        That’s for the court to decide, not Norman or Cunliffe
        Over ruling the court for your own gain is banana republic stuff.

        Also the only reason Norman went and saw Dot com is because Dot com would take green votes, Norman knows lots of young dumb people vote Green and would switch to the internet party.

        • fender 5.1.1.1

          So you will be voting Green then, or are you an old dumb person(?).

          The Greens have some excellent policies BM, you are “dumb” if you can’t recognise this.

        • adam 5.1.1.2

          So were in a Banana republic now BM. As the Key government has over ruled the courts a few times now. Or better yet, he changed the law when the courts make a decision he did not like. BM you need to go to the toilet, before you throw around moral high ground shit – because it sticking and a little smelly.

        • Tracey 5.1.1.3

          “Over ruling the court for your own gain is banana republic stuff.”

          Actually deleting files relevant to a current court proceeding for your own gain is “banana republic stuff”

        • Tracey 5.1.1.4

          If we are going to indulge in fantasy, the only reason Abbott didnt give key any concessions is cos key never asked for any.

        • Disraeli Gladstone 5.1.1.5

          “That’s for the court to decide.”

          Rubbish. There’s a reason why the Extradition Act is written to allow the Minister to have the final say. The Court only looks at a the validity and process of the extradition. It is not allowed to look at wider issues. So if China or Russia wishes to extradite someone, the Court would only look at the process, not any threat of torture or execution. The Minister has the final say because (s)he is allow to look at these wider issues.

          It’s not banana republic stuff. The United Kingdom recently blocked Gary McKinnon’s extradition under the exact same law. McKinnon had appealed all the way to the Privy Council and the European Court of Human Rights and had it turned down. However, the Home Secretary took into account other matters (McKinnon’s personal health, the US’s prison system for the mentally ill, the proportionate nature of the sentence to the crime) and decided to block the extradition.

          Now, you can argue that after considering the wider issues, the Justice Minister should still allow extradition to proceed. You can argue that Norman is essentially selling that power for Dotcom’s support. But enough of the rubbish that “it’s for the Court to decide”. It’s not. It’s for both the Court and the Justice Minister to decide. They look at the question from different sides. The Act is written that way.

          • BM 5.1.1.5.1

            You can argue that Norman is essentially selling that power for Dotcom’s support.

            I’m not arguing it, Norman basically came out and said it.

            That’s the real issue, wealthy individuals buying off politicians to escape crimes that they’re wanted for.
            That’s banana republic stuff.

            I realize the left are desperate for power but fucking hell think of the big picture.

            • Colonial Viper 5.1.1.5.1.1

              What bullshit. What “crime”? Crime against corporate interests? You make me laugh.

              The US and NZ clearly did not follow due process in dealing with Dotcom, if you really believed in the rule of law you would understand that and you would realise that it is their arbitrary decision making and inability to follow natural justice which has given Dotcom a possible get out of jail free card.

              • cricklewood

                That’s correct and I am confident our judiciary are independent enough to take these obvious breaches into account when they reach a decision. I would be uncomfortable with a politician overruling the judiciary based on ‘I just don’t think it’s fair’.

            • Pascal's bookie 5.1.1.5.1.2

              “I’m not arguing it, Norman basically came out and said it.”

              Bullshit.

          • veutoviper 5.1.1.5.2

            Good summary of the legal position, DG. As you say, the courts do not make the final decision on extradition, this is made by the Minister of Justice.

            If people want more on the legal ins and outs, Graeme Edgeler, David Fisher and others have been discussing this extensively on their Twitter sites.

          • lprent 5.1.1.5.3

            The Court only looks at a the validity and process of the extradition.

            Not quite. It is wider than the actual process of the extradition.

            It also looks at if whatever the offense is would also be a crime in nz. Since the charges against DotCom are flimsy even in US law, and probably wouldn’t be a major crime here assuming our conspiracy laws covered it (I don’t think that they do) – the extradition has a pretty good probability of never getting near the minister.

            • grumpy 5.1.1.5.3.1

              In that case I would have no problem It is if the Courts decide that extradition is warranted and the politician squashes it for political kickback that I would think “everyone” has a problem.

              • Pascal's bookie

                What if a Minister approves an extradition to get rid of a political problem?

                • grumpy

                  In that case it should never have got past the court process. If the case is sound the Minister should approve.

                  • Pascal's bookie

                    Nope. The Minister and the Court decide different aspects. It could be right and proper for the Minister to not extradite when the court hands them the decision to make.

      • PapaMike 5.1.2

        But hasn’t Norman already confirmed that he would when in Government support the line in keeping DotCom here, ignoring the law should the extradition be found against DotCom.
        Or did I misread his statement ?

    • Tracey 5.2

      You borrowing from sssrylands now BM?

      Open mike 08/02/2014

      Rob Donald was variously described by those you support as a loonie greenie.

      Funny when someone dies who crops up to pretend they admired them. Especially when alive, they ridiculed them.

      • BM 5.2.1

        I agree with what srylands was saying.

        Rod Donald was a nice guy who at least had some mana, unlike the Oz communist who would sell NZ down the river in a heart beat if it got him into power.

        I hope the decent people in the Greens revolt and finally kick out the communist scum.

        • Tracey 5.2.1.1

          You are a co fused I individual. You say they are decent people but name call anyone thinking of voting for them. You reveal alot about yourself… that you vote according to whats in it for you otherwise why not vote for the decent folks?

          Siding with the bullies mb.

  6. Stephanie Rodgers 6

    I really don’t know about Rob’s analysis. The leader of ACT also isn’t running for anything – though of course they’re not doing well in the polls, either. And this very story shows that all Kim Dotcom has to do is send a tweet and he’s headline news – plus those ‘buckets of money’ he has can probably buy plenty of advertising.

    As for the party’s policy offerings being ‘thin’, I don’t think this is surprising since it hasn’t officially launched yet.

    I agree they probably won’t crack 5%, but weirder things have happened in NZ politics, and I think it’s a bit early to be writing them off.

  7. Colonial Viper 7

    Breaking it down, this gambit looks exactly like a convluted version of a rich guy offering up cash in exchange for personally favourable policies. Yuck.

    Internet freedom, data privacy, protection of journalists, and civil rights against arbitrary search and seizure are sound, timely policies in the era of an encroaching surveillance state.

    Some may think that the above is too “thin” to campaign on, but each of them are meaty topics which strike at the heart of the democratic process. You cannot consider moving voting online for instance, until issues of internet freedom and privacy are resolved.

    Anything which pressures our political parties to get more serious about these policies is very welcome IMO, and not to be trivialised.

    • Bearded Git 7.1

      Agreed CV. I’m with Chooky. Don’t write KDC off yet.

      He has flair for publicity, dosh and a receptive youth/nerd/anti-establishment vote to glean.

    • miravox 7.2

      However, Labour and the Greens will lose the moral high-ground over gerrymandered Epsom and Ohariu (which seems to have a bit of traction this year?) if they’re seen to be doing deals with Dotcom. It’s likely Gower can see a juicy story coming up along this line.

      Edit: It will be good for him to drop his campaign though – that can only take votes of the left…. and left is something he isn’t.

      • grumpy 7.2.1

        …….and the “left” is what is going to stop him being extradited to face his crimes (if they get elected).

        • Colonial Viper 7.2.1.1

          What crimes? Crimes against corporate interests? LOL

          • grumpy 7.2.1.1.1

            I would have thought that being indited by a US Grand Jury for such things as “money laundering” and “racketeering” would be fairly much considered as crimes.
            The US does have a pretty robust Justice system…..
            Anyway, the “crime” should be considered by a court. Our extradition treaty is another matter which works both ways.
            Surely you are not claining that it is sufficient for Norman to make a nakedly political decision that no crime exists?

            • Pascal's bookie 7.2.1.1.1.1

              “I would have thought that being indited by a US Grand Jury for such things as “money laundering” and “racketeering” would be fairly much considered as crimes.”

              https://www.google.co.nz/#q=%22a+grand+jury+would+%27indict+a+ham+sandwich

              I don’t think you grok what a grand jury indictment is.

            • Colonial Viper 7.2.1.1.1.2

              The US does have a pretty robust Justice system…..

              No it doesn’t. It has a justice system designed to target enemies of the corporations and the government.

              I would have thought that being indited by a US Grand Jury for such things as “money laundering” and “racketeering” would be fairly much considered as crimes.

              But these indictments will not hold up if incorrect procedures were used to gather evidence or entrap KDC.

              That’s the basis of why KDC has not been extradited. Because legal due process was not followed.

              The bottom line remains: Corporate Hollywood is behind this indictment. KDC claims that he checked with US law enforcement multiple times what they wanted him to do with any infringing materials on his servers.

              They never asked him to take anything down.

              • veutoviper

                “They never asked him to take anything down.”

                I haven’t got time right now to find links etc, but I am pretty sure that Megaupload complied on many occasions to takedown requests. BUT IIRCt one of the things used against Megaupload involved a (FBI?) request to them was NOT to takedown a specific breach or breaches by a certain company (?) which the US authorities were monitoring – which was then turned back on Megaupload.

                • McFlock

                  Indeed – and taking the profits from that “crime” committed by the company is what then counts as “money laundering”.

                  It’s actually really difficult to commit just a single crime – although it’s a measure of how badly they’re out to get you if they use “all the law”.

                  Another example is that of uppity youths drinking in US bars illegally – they often have fake ids. If they’re cooperative, they might just get a ticket for underage drinking. If they’re dicks (or the cop is a bigot, or if the cop has to up their law enforcement activities) then they get arrested for identity theft, misuse of official documents, and the ticket for possession of alcohol while underage.

                  I tend to be sceptical about conspiracy theories, but this KDC snowballed to the point that careers rest on a successful prosecution. They really want him.

        • Lanthanide 7.2.1.2

          They haven’t even held the extradition hearing yet. There’s no guarantee the extradition case will even stack up against him.

          • grumpy 7.2.1.2.1

            ….and that is how it should be…..

            • Lanthanide 7.2.1.2.1.1

              Then you shouldn’t have made the comment saying “the left is what is going to stop him being extradited”, because in making that statement you have assumed the court will find in favour of extradition, which they have in fact not done.

      • Colonial Viper 7.2.2

        I have no problem with “doing deals” in order to do the “right thing” around internet freedom, data privacy and protection of journalists.

  8. weka 8

    If I am right about that, then come ballot-printing day Mr Dotcom will be throwing his weight in with someone else. And by “his weight,” I presume he means large buckets of money. That sets up an silent auction for parties to compete for Dotcom’s money on the basis of policy promises, first and foremost about Dotcom’s own extradition case. That is, if parties decide they want to play.

    The assumption there is that KDC will want to buy his extradition, and that that is the only option for him in using his resources. I’d like to know what the evidence is for this assumption, as opposed to say he will fund the party that best matches his own party’s policies. There is a difference between supporting something and expecting quid pro quo.

    I also don’t think this is just about money. As others have mentioned KDC also has siginificant media pull. He will probably out gun everyone on the internets. Whether he knows what he is doing in the political scene remains to be seen.

    I do agree that the left parties need to be very careful though. Norman’s comment yesterday about extradition wasn’t a good look.

    • Tracey 8.1

      Perception is everything. It’s why the Nats spend so much time and money skewing it.

      If DotCom wants to really see changes around privacy then he needs to be uber-ransparent and not expect other parties to sacrifice themselves for him, cos that is what will happen when the mean NACT machine starts rolling.

      How does a message about the NACTs being in bed with big business sit when big business is sitting next to you on the podium…

      or as I like to call it in election year, the Odium

      Poignant reminder time

      ““I’m a core supporter,” he wrote, but if the party leader Don Brash “did all the things I personally like to hear, [he] would be unelectable.” Keenan said the public perception of National was substantially negative: “a worry that National [would] return to the days of major reform, with privatisation, welfare cuts, spending cuts on core services and another round of employment law reforms that will drive wages down.” Brash wrote a reply e-mail to Keenan saying that those were precisely what he had in mind: “I’d much prefer to go and do something enjoyable, and more lucrative, than being a Prime Minister of a status quo government,” he said. Keenan replied that the policies they stood for “are not widely enough shared in the community to win an election.” He said they had to face the reality that “an uncompromising freemarket liberal stance results in ACT [party] level of support” which, when Keenan was writing, meant about 4%.

      This is what The Hollow Men is about: all the tactics and political maneouvring of a group of political advisers and senior politicians who were aware they did not have public support for their intended policies and set out to win power by stealth and manipulation. Thus their famous use of racism at Orewa and their attacks on poor people on benefits, while “de-emphasising” or hiding their real policy plans, their political allies and their secret donors.” The Hollow Men N Hager

      • Anne 8.1.1

        @ tracey

        This is what The Hollow Men is about: all the tactics and political maneouvring of a group of political advisers and senior politicians who were aware they did not have public support for their intended policies and set out to win power by stealth and manipulation.

        Yep… so true.

        And they’re doing it again and still those political trollops in the MSM are falling in behind like a bunch of love-sick teens.

    • grumpy 8.2

      He has got his “quid pro quo”. Norman has admitted it

      • Colonial Viper 8.2.1

        By quid pro quo, you mean the Greens committed to following good legal due process re: KDC.

        Which the National Government has not. Sounds fine to me.

        • Puckish Rogue 8.2.1.1

          and of course they’ll just happen to find in KDCs favour…

          • grumpy 8.2.1.1.1

            Of course, Norman and Cunliffe have admitted that. So much for CV’s “good legal due process”

            • Colonial Viper 8.2.1.1.1.1

              Are you aware that Norman and Cunliffe do not pick the members of the Supreme Court?

              • grumpy

                True, but the Minister has final say and both have indicated (Norman more strongly) that under a Labour Greens government the minister would deny extradition no matter what the legal decision was.

                • Pascal's bookie

                  And the PM has indicated that he thinks there are no legal issues and that KDC should just go to the US. Pretty sure he’s also called him a pirate.

                  Noting your outrage about this.

            • weka 8.2.1.1.1.2

              Citation needed. And the good legal process refers back to the fact that laws have been broken under Key’s watch and therefore the exradition is invalid. I don’t see the problem with political parties setting policy before the election on the basis of what has happened so far.

  9. captain hook 9

    only in New Zealand can someone like dotcondom get a hearing.
    pass the popcorn and the peanuts.

  10. Puckish Rogue 10

    So in return for KDC supporting the Greens and Labour, Greens and Labour will block KDCs extradition to the USA (if it comes to pass)

    Well the election got even more interesting

    • grumpy 10.1

      In defiance of a US Federal Grand Jury and our extradition treaty????
      And the “left” got their tits in a tangle about Banksie???? Sort of puts the Dotcom/Banks thing into more perspective….and to think that Dotcom’s grouch with Banks was because he wouldn’t bend the rules to accommodate him! No such niceties with Greens and Labour though.

  11. Pascal's bookie 11

    Q:”Did you do a deal with Dotcom, don’t stand and we’ll try and prevent your extradition?” A: “No, I did not.”

    The greens have been o the government’s case about their handling of this forever. It was them who laid a complaint with the police over the GCSB’s illegal spying, remember?

    Or maybe that was in return for KDC promising to start a party that he would then fold , or some shit.

    fact is, national fucked up in their oversight of the GCSB, cut corbners to curry favour with the US and it all blew up in their face. Hence their hatred for KDC.

    • grumpy 11.1

      Dunno. Dotcom is a high profile character indited by a US federal grand jury on serious charges. We have an extradition treaty with the US.
      Sure NZ law enforcement stuffed up but that’s not unusual and nothing to do with the US trying to extradite a person under their extradition treaty with NZ.
      How did this http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/business/documents/megaupload_indictment.pdf
      turn into an argument over the GCSB?

      • Pascal's bookie 11.1.1

        Read the news every day, try and follow a story as it progresses, and maybe you’ll keep up with it as it changes.

        National, from the PM down, have been going hard out to get this over and done with. If you think there are no politics involved in the way National talk about this, you’re not paying attention.

        Why is that?

      • Tracey 11.1.2

        I note the us havent put amanda knox on a plane to italy.

  12. One Anonymous Bloke 12

    Love all the wingnuts putting all their chips on the decision going to the minister.

    Get ready for a disappointment, fellas 😆

    • grumpy 12.1

      Extradition treaties are there for a purpose and work both ways.
      So, when a finance company crook, shoots across to the US with his defrauded millions and the US tears up our extradition treaty on the basis of Norman’s decision – you will be happy?…..or a rapist….or a murderer…..etc. Are you ready for the influx of US crooks to NZ?
      Could the the US is a new Brazil for NZ crooks and NZ the new Brazil for US ones.

      • Colonial Viper 12.1.1

        Legal due process is there to ensure that authorities do not misuse their powers. If steps aren’t followed, charges need to be thrown out.

        In the case of KDC, they illegally seized and destroyed property of his with no compensation. The authorities fucked up.

        It’s not a difficult concept to comprehend.

        • grumpy 12.1.1.1

          Very easy to follow. Again, legal issues that should be decided by a court – not by a politician in return for a favour.

          • Pascal's bookie 12.1.1.1.1

            And they shouldn’t be ignored to avoid a political problem, which is what the PM has been strongly indicating with his statements about KDCs legal process.

            And you should put up some evidence for this: “in return for a favour”.

            The Greens have been uncomfortable about the process since before KDC’s party was even a thing.

      • Pascal's bookie 12.1.2

        You need to calm down Grumps.

        You have gotten so worked up that you are now suggesting that the US legal system is corrupt, and cannot be trusted, which cuts against your argument that there are no grounds not to extradite KDC.

        There’s been a lot written, over the last few days, about how extradition works in this case. Read it all, think about it calmly, and ignore Gower’s trolling and DPF flat out ignorance.

        You’ll be better for it.

        • grumpy 12.1.2.1

          If the courts in NZ decide the extradition does not stack up on legal grounds, then I have no issue with that. Likewise if the US courts find him not guilty if he doeas get extradited.
          This preoccupation of the left with doing “favours” is what got the unions and ALP in Aussie in the shit.

          • Pascal's bookie 12.1.2.1.1

            So you would like to change our extradition law to leave it all up to the courts then?

          • wtl 12.1.2.1.2

            You seem to be badly misinformed or simply spreading FUD. In extradition process, the Minister has a role separate from the role of courts. The Minister’s role is NOT to simply approve the extradition even if the courts approve it. You should read some proper legal opinion on the matter before continuing to post 1 comment a minute on this subject.

  13. blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 13

    I don’t really ‘get’ the objection to Kim Dot Com’s statement – it is a great relief to me that he is acting in a manner that will avoid wasted votes.

    There are also rather large benefits for parties that support due legal process and internet freedom.

    If he gets under 5% – all the money and time he invests into motivating the voting public and all publicity that he seems to easily attract – goes to the benefit of another party – i.e. the other party has just received a whole lot of free campaigning.

    I don’t think everyone who intends to vote for the Internet Party would go off and vote for who he suggests – in fact I’m guessing some may not vote at all if he doesn’t end up being on the ballot paper – however, for those that do listen to his suggestion – or go off and vote elsewhere – KDC has ensured that people have not wasted votes on his account – this is a good thing IMO.

  14. tricledrown 14

    Grumpy John Key was in charge of currency trading at Merril Lynch ,this was running a Ponzi scheme printing $38 dollars for every $1 on deposit he was also involved in setting up the Irish branch of ML which ended up costing Irish tax payers $ 200 billion + when that Ponzi scheme collapsed even after Merrill Lynch was paid by the Irish govt to look at these ponzi schemes.They lied through their
    teeth.

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