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Spending Brown

Written By: - Date published: 2:41 pm, December 13th, 2010 - 49 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, election funding, len brown, rodney hide - Tags:

So ACT, through Rodney (who’s so careful with the taxpayer’s money) and Jami-Lee Ross, are trying to make an issue with Len Brown’s spending.

The TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre decided to allow candidates to use its billboard space and Brown did?  Shocking!

He accepted $15,000 donation from SkyCity (but doesn’t change his “strong views on gambling”)?  More shocking that Banks also accepted the $15,000 from SkyCity and it didn’t show up in his accounts.

But the most shocking fact to me?  Banks spent $948,937 to Brown’s $581,900 and couldn’t even get close to the SuperCity Rodney and National had designed for him to run.  Ouch, I guess you can see why Rodney’s hurt.

There are questions about big corporate money getting into local government in a non-transparent manner and the influence it has, which should be fixed.  But Brown is not the one at fault here – it’s the system that Rodney designed, so it’s rich for him to then ensure it’s complained about when it funds the Left’s candidate as well as the Right’s.


And finally, because I’ve been reading too much Dr Seuss recently and now everything comes out in his poetic meter:

Mr Brown came to town,
Mr Brown did not frown,
Did not frown did Mr Brown,
But turned Hide’s plan upside down.

49 comments on “Spending Brown ”

  1. Sam 1

    “But Brown is not the one at fault here.”

    No, he is at fault.

    Len Brown made a choice to accept secret money.

    And he did.

  2. Herododus 2

    The TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre decided to allow candidates to use its billboard space and Brown did? Shocking!
    Bunji- a I hope that all this spin does not make the head see stars, or are you playing Wibbly wobbly ?(a game that was common at Ken Maunder Park).
    Was this offer extended to all canditates, and by what authority was this support given ? Now as I understand Mr Jefferies (CEO of the Event centre) was also part of Mayor Browns team, and now a counter balance to Rodneys board appointments? So there was a CCO using subsidised ratepayers money to supporting a specific canditate.
    How come when a \”non committed ??\” left wing canditate pushes the rules it is the system at fault, yet when a right wing person pushed the rules everythng is rotten to the core?
    Some balance required please.

    • Pascal's bookie 2.1

      Read the links herod.

      • Herododus 2.1.1

        Re Brown is not at fault here.How is that? The PEC is a council setup entity, that has struggled to breakeven and went out 9 years ago for corporate sponsorship (Which in Nov 10 for many the final payment of sponsorship was made)
        PB this post states/implies “The TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre decided to allow candidates to use its billboard space and Brown did? Shocking!” As I asked was this offer extended to all canditates? And Mr Jeferies CEO was in positions that could be considered in conflict on what now is 3 levels, CEO, Browns mayoral team and now as an oppointed CCO board member. On this site there has been when there is a conflict of interest that this be questioned. Why are not the same high standards now being expressed towards “Our mayor” and/or Mr Jefferies, is it not a worry for a council entity to support candiates at an election: either finacially or in services propvided?
        For me all this is countering the other sides spin, especially as on the surface “our” team is not 100% clean.

        • Pascal's bookie

          The post also contains some of that strange blue text. They ‘link’ to other pages on this WWW thing. I assume those links get there on purpose, rather than by accident.

          • Herododus

            You mean categories???
            Or to NZ herald and red Alert. (I have read these).
            Still there is on the surface a conflict that requires an answer. the answer may satisfy the questions being asked. But how do we know????
            And the post contains spin to lessen the effect of this conflict. Imagine the reverse and say Watercare assisting Banks in his campaign, and the outcry that would be heard (perhaps not from the NZ Herald) but there would be comments posted.

        • Swampy

          A bill board is worth money
          Remember bob Clarkson in Tauranga had to account for his free billboards

          When they say “it had to be put in as a value because it has a value” that is nonsense
          It had to be put in as a value because the events centre lost the use of that bill board for the time Brown was using it

    • Bunji 2.2

      No, I think the system needs transforming. When Rodney was pushing the spending limits out to a ridiculous level, allowing third parties free reign and removing requirements of transparency, I was against all that, and my parliamentary submission on the bill said so. Only small donations should be allowed to be anonymous.

      But Len was going to have a lot less money as it was, so to reduce his funds massively by allowing Banks to have all the corporate greed he wanted, but for Len to not have any company cash is expecting the ridiculous, and would allow the right to buy the election as was their original plan. He hopefully won’t be beholden to it, but I’m all for fixing the local government election law.

      On your other point Richard Jeffrey has got a board appointment on the tourism & events board – he would seem overly qualified for the role. He alone was not responsible for the decision to the billboard space, it was a Counties-Manukau Pacific Trust Board decision – a board that included amongst others a former National MP… so probably the decision to allow “whoever asked” billboard space was legit as the mayoral spokesman says.

      • Herododus 2.2.1

        Bunji- was this offer extended to all and how was this given?-(If so I will creep back into my hole and accept that it was legit and all had the same opportunity) Though I still have an issue with CCO’s and the like taking positions. Or was it that if anyone asked we (PEC) would accommodate, BUt will not make it known that this is our policy, in reality giving Len an advantage, especially when given the large exposure from the motorway given The PEC location. It also raises a question that Transfund (Or who ever they are this week) has strick rules on billboards etc on the motorway. Especially due to diverting Drivers attention. e.g signs containing www address, phone nos, size etc. (I take it that the advertising was facing SH1 and not Gt Sth Rd.)
        I am also sure that Mr Jeffery has skills that would enable such an appointment (and I have some contact with Mr J ), it is just that such appoinments raise the question to be asked (and we should be able to ask the question), the same for ex MP’s.

        • Bunji

          I don’t know the details of how the offer was given, Herod.

          Councils provide space for all candidates to have boards up, so it’s not really out of line with that though I would suggest.

          It is tricky with many of the board appointments going to ex-executives of the former councils etc – seems a money-go-round, but they are also the most obviously qualified people for the job, with knowledge of how the system currently works, and a proven track record of doing the job required… So I guess fair enough that questions are asked, but they probably have legitimate answers…

          • Herododus

            “Councils provide space for all candidates to have boards up, so it’s not really out of line with that though I would suggest.”
            Yes councils do allow their land to be used in this manner for both local and central elections. But the do not charge for this. So as PEC have made a donation (That appears to be in lieu for advertising space – a commercial activity for the centre) that this is different to that of just making the land available for one and all. If there is nothing in it then for someone within PEC to come out and say so. The longer they leave it the more it appears to be self interest, mates looking after mates and come tomorrow perceptions will be entrenched. I am no spin dr but the easiest way to kill a false story is to correct the facts,……. yesterday!!!
            And re My J appointment into CCO’s have no prblem IF he is appropiate for the role (and abit of divine justice in rebalancing out the appoinments by both spectrums)

            • Bunji

              The “donation” was free billboard space – but as the trust is set up as a private entity it has to be given a monetary value. It would be the same value on council land, but it doesn’t need accounting for. As far as correcting facts, they’ve come out and said “it was available for all”, so I don’t really see what more they have to say.

              • Herododus

                How can billboard space be available to all if it is the site that faces the motorway. there is only 1 billboard from memory. To add to this space (i.e addtional signage)takes time for council resource consents to be processed and Transfund approval. Sorry to disagree this is not the same as on council land, as MCC does not have private billboard space to rent out. It may have been available for all, but that does not mean that the others would have been given it for “free”, this quote is just a play on words. Banks and co may have had the opportunity to use this, was this also at no cost? There are more questions as time goes on, with no satisfactory answers being given. But hey “our” team won who cares about the rules. As said before if the shoe was on the other foot all hell would be released on this site towards banks.
                There was an opportunity cost associated to this that has a cash consequence. the centre has had a chequered history regarding its funding (does it make money or not) and promises that no council money would go into this and yet there is council subsidies.

      • Swampy 2.2.2

        ISnt there any existing law for local government elections
        You seem to say they made up new laws just for Auckland

        • lprent

          Correct.. There were three bills passed last year just for Auckland. Substantial amounts of the law on local actions was changed including the spending limits, ward boundaries, number of councils, number of councilors, the role if the various layers of the auckland local government. Most of it was crap we didn’t want, some bits were, but that arsehole Rodney and his minion Key stuffed them down our throats anyway.

          I’m sure you were leaving these late night streams then. Surely you must have read the posts?

  3. Bright Red 3

    both Banks and Brown (and Parker) used trusts.

    I would think that you actually needs some kind of financial vehicle independent of the candidates’ personal finances for these large campaigns.

    Political parties have their own accounts but independent candidates at local level don’t have party structures to use.

  4. Colonial Viper 4

    Total spending by any candidate in any campaign needs to be capped and capped relatively low.

    You see the corrosive effect in the US where senators etc have to go cap in hand to big corporates for money to be able to even have a chance in their multimillion dollar races.

  5. Roger 5

    “He accepted $15,000 donation from SkyCity (but doesn’t change his “strong views on gambling”)? More shocking that Banks also accepted the $15,000 from SkyCity and it didn’t show up in his accounts.”

    I wonder if this is a standard US corporate ploy where a less than socially desirable outfit fund both campaigns but do so in a way that the candidate they want to win is left better off. By funding their right leaning candidate in a way that it won’t show up, but funding the left leaning candidate in a way that it will show up; either their candidate gets in, or the other candidate can easily be smeared, presented as a hypocrite, and eventually voted out so that their candidate can push through favourable policies (for the company doing the funding).

    The company comes up smelling like roses since they can say they were just sponsoring the democratic process.

  6. Bunji 6

    Some more figures:

    Spending cap for last 3 months: $579,560

    Brown – $581,900 spent in total (edit: donated in total – and presumably mostly spent)
    $499,000 anonymous
    $390,761 spent in last 3 months
    237,487 votes

    Colin Craig – $569,321 spent in total – with no donations declared (entirely self-funded?)
    42,598 votes

    Banks – $948,937 spent in total (edit: donated in total – and presumably mostly spent)
    $624,012 anonymous or with no name attached (apparently different…)
    $87,000 his own money
    $554,958 spent in last 3 months
    171,542 votes

    edit: donations only include those of $1000 and over

    • AndyB 6.1

      please change that to:

      banks – declared $948,937 in donations and $554,958 spending

      not $948,937 spent. never get a miss-truth get in the way of a good story huh?

      • Colonial Viper 6.1.1

        What happened to that $394K surplus?

      • Bunji 6.1.2

        I believe I’ve got $554,958 spent in last 3 months (ie “the electoral period”) – there was a lot of advertising and spending going on 1 year in advance of the elections. Those massive billboards he had up for the whole year don’t come cheap. Bill Ralston’s services probably don’t either…

        And this was the man who gave up his Auckland mayoral salary to pay for his own political adviser (like that was a great benefit to the ratepayers of Auckland).

        You don’t donate $87k to your own campaign to cover a surplus.

        • AndyB

          cheers … didn’t mean to sound too cocky, apologies. i was just going off the herald article that stated the spending caps so i initially thought you deliberately misrepresented the figures for effect.

          hate banksie, he is far too cocky for his own good. so more than happy for him to be gone. i just wish the right had come up with a better candidate. never mind … next time.

      • lprent 6.1.3

        I’ll let bunji change it or argue it when he sees it.

        But it is an interesting question that because of the funding limits we will probably never know – how much was actually spent.

        But the nett effect is also pretty clear at least for this election. The amount of money spent on the Auckland 2010 in total is just outright crazy. The dollars per vote cast in the mayoral race is also crazy. Buying votes did not work.

        However this was an exceptional election. People were a wee bit pissed from both the right, left, and everywhere else about Rodney and NACT’s idiotic super-city scheme that ignored the wishes of Aucklanders. The gerrymander didn’t work largely because voters deliberately voted against it.

        You can see why Rodney is pissed. It shows him as being an incompetent politician who couldn’t carry the voters with his great idea – he tried to jam them into his preferred straightjacket and they subverted the design . But it was rather obvious that Rodney was better in opposition than government before this fiasco.

        • Herododus

          At least we are not here yet …
          From a business sense I would love to see the financial feasibilty to justify these spends. There must be some money for Senators/Congress positions.
          Unfortunately we set the rules and political parties just display contempt.. remember 2005 pledge card or GST issues anyone ???
          Easiest way to comply with the rules … have none, but that creates other issues.
          Another problem no matter who is inpower, justy watch CYPs, action against violence etc on TV adds. Displaying an indirect message to the public by the govt. look at what we are doing for society and you… we care. the spend on govt depts in the last few election years has increased. Actions like this are not counted but do give the incumbent govt an advantage.

  7. bobo 7

    Not the best judgement from Brown accepting the 15k I agree… But Wodney is laughable trying to kick up over this with his track record on rorting and dishonesty.

    • TightyRighty 7.1

      the 15k is nothing. It’s the 3375 from the Events centre, whose staff then go on to have positions on CCO’s despite the fact they operated at a stupendous losss.

      • bobo 7.1.1

        Wodneys just pissed off his powergrab for Auckland backfired or maybe he wants a position on a CCO after the next election if he doesn’t get back in? Surely he is planning for his life after ACT with a mini-me on the way?

        • George.com

          Maybe Rodney should perhaps spent his time ensuring Ministers and Ministers use tax payer subsidised flights correctly. Maybe break his silence over what looks, on face value, to be misconduct with government spending. I wonder why Rodney isn’t referring thisto the auditor-general. 9 letter word beginning with H and ending in Y with a C in the middle?

  8. Graeme 8

    who owns lenny?

  9. Carol 9

    DF is just on Mora’s afternoon RNZ show, saying he’s been on the case trying to find out Brown’s “secret” funding…huh?! Did I miss where DF has been trying as hard to get NAct to be more transparent about their funding/trusts etc?

    Oh, and DF is saying if Brwn is not careful he will end up with a brand of secrecy….. and yet NAct out does all that & more on secrecy & lack of transparency. Come on, Mora, where’s your scrutiny of DF on this?

    • Pascal's bookie 9.1

      Though to be fair, he did come right out and say that the Waitemata Trust is a bloody dodgy look both for the donors and the National party and that no one can be sure whether or not the National Party introduces various bits of legislation in return for Waitemata trust donations. He didn’t say national actually do this policy for cash business, but he flat out said it’s a possibility and that no one can know fer sure and that them thar Waitemata trust is dodgy as all hell.

      Well, he didn’t say it as such, but he totes implied it pretty directly but possibly by accident.

  10. Sanctuary 10

    Why do you bother with listening to nMora? He is an intellectually lazy and smug bastard who does all his research on kiwiblog, and although he frequently calls on David Farrar he consistently fails to reveal Farrar’s extensive political connections to the National party and government- an omission of Mora’s which to my mind amounts to an oging, deliberate attempt to deceive and mislead his audience.

    Recently, Mora got very aggresive very quickly when challenged by Gordon Campbell about his biases and right wing spin. His aggressive reaction to being challenged (typical of fundys like Mora) told me everything I needed to know about how thin his affable veneer is before his deep and nasty prejudices are exposed, and how deliberate is his propagandizing on his show, and I’ve simply stopped listening to his bullshit.

    • TightyRighty 10.1

      how do you feel about kim hill?

    • Carol 10.2

      I don’t listen to him that often these days – usually only when I’m interested in his guests. But this arvo I was listening to him in the car on the drive home from the train station. Have switched off since as I can’t be bothered with these guests. But DF’s biases were sooooo glaring.

  11. Rodel 11

    The main thing is that awful Banks person got wasted.
    It’s not right, but boy as an Auckland resident I’m sooooo glad!

  12. Jeremy Harris 12

    What a ridiculous apologists post, the leftist post you were looking for was:

    This stinks

    After the 2005 election, public outrage over the National Party’s habit of laundering their donations through a secret trust boiled over. The result was the Electoral Finance Act, which (among other things) broke the veil of secrecy around trusts, forcing those who transmit donations to political parties and candidates to identify who they are transmitting them for. While the Act has been repealed, this rule was retained, politicians accepting that the higher degree of transparency was required to retain public confidence in the political system.

    Except it wasn’t just national-level politicians playing these games. There have also been problems with trusts in local body politics. In Christchurch, Mayor Bob Parker laundered his donations through a trust, granting secrecy to his donors. Given the secretive way he has run the council, and the dodgy property deals it has engaged in under his watch, we cannot be sure that they are not getting payback. Wellington mayor Kerry Prendergast and Hamilton mayor Bob Simcock did likewise. In Palmerston North, Mayor Jono Naylor tried to do the same, but was thwarted when someone leaked his secret donor list. It turned out that his primary donor was a wealthy property developer, and that he had already received his payback in the form of a significant planning change, without the conflict of interest being declared. Preventing that sort of corruption is exactly why we require donations to be disclosed in the first place.

    And now, Auckland Supermayor Len Brown has joined the club, laundering almost half a million – 80% of his total – through a trust to hide the identity of his donors. The result is that we do not know who he his beholden to, and what council decisions he should be stepping aside from to avoid the perception of corruption. And this is simply not acceptable.

    (John Banks did the same, BTW, so we’d be having this conversation regardless of who had won).

    Politicians have accepted that the age of laundered donations is over. Its time we applied the same rules to local body politics. We have a right to know that our local government decisions are above board and free of corruption. And we cannot do that as long as there are large secret donors, their identities protected by trusts.


    I don’t often agree with I/S but at least he’s consistent… The outrage is the donation from the events theatre, not much better than theft and outright corruption that…

  13. Logie97 13

    Now let’s see what big projects Len could have been tainted with.
    There’s the The Rapid Rail business – Tranz Metro flushed with cash??? Construction companies??? How about a Chinese Hovercraft Company???

    Nah, don’t think so.

    What about planning approval for Mega-Churches. Flipping hell. Might be something there. A few of their Pastors are flushed with the folding…

    • Herododus 13.1

      For those you think that it was Ok as both Banks and Brown were given funds thru anomalous sources. Now every non notified resource consent, developments that are against town planning rules could be inferred to have special treatment. The same would be applicable to Banks.
      How do we not know in future when cases (as linked below arise) and questions are asked. For 99+% of the cases there is nothing sinister, and even the 1% is most probably not connected, yet there is always that doubt, and this is where anomalous sourced funds have issues- it destroys peoples confidence in the system. 🙁
      And good on idiot/savant for calling it as it is, and not excusing anyones actions like some !!!

      [lprent: Corrected one wee typo. I don’t think you meant to say that I/S was a goon 🙂 ]

  14. Irascible 14

    When I see that J Lee-Ross is at the bottom of the scandal whipping and that R Hide is joining in the chorus I smell a huge rat. This campaign funding attack on Len Brown is but a continuation of the baseless “credit card scandal” that Quax & Ross were behind at the beginning of the campaign.
    I wonder if there are any connections between Lee-Ross and Pansy that might lead one to suspect that this is a NACT diversionary tactic to divert the media from Wong-gate??

  15. tc 15

    mmmm that’s the smell of fear rising in NACT land as their attempt to engineer a right wing council to match their supercity model failed miserably and the consequences could be very telling in next years election.

    Interesting to see Cameron Brewer grandstanding on some art deco buildings in St Heliers the former council (JBanks’s council) have given a developer a green light to demolish…..good luck with that Cameron who you gonna blame this time ?

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