The real crime with the Brethren spending

Written By: - Date published: 2:46 pm, October 12th, 2007 - 35 comments
Categories: brethren - Tags:

I want to clarify the major difference between the Brethren spending money to elect National and the union’s spending money to elect Labour. The Brethren spent $1.2million and National didn’t have to account for it. Whatever the unions spent on Labour came under Labour’s spending cap. So in fact the National Party got what was in effect $1.2 million EXTRA to spend on election advertising. That’s half as much again as they were allowed. If it had been attributable it would have put them way over their cap and in deep donkey do with the law.

We know for certain as a result of emails in “The Hollow Men” that the Brethren wrote to Don Brash and John Key seeking to support National’s campaign. We know for certain as a result of the documents released at the conclusion of the police enquiry that the same Brethren spokesman later wrote to the Chief Electoral Officer informing him that the Brethren wished to spend $1.2 million in a campaign to elect Don Brash. He and others sought a meeting with the Chief Electoral Officer as they had a number of questions they wished to put to him about the legality of their campaign, particularly in relation to whether or not their spending would be counted as part of the National Party’s expenditure limit.

The Brethren took three different examples of advertisements to the Electoral Office. The advice they were given was that if advertising was negative, that is it did not advocate for a political party, it did not need authorisation and would not be attributable, but that there were grey areas in what might “appear to support” a Party and care was needed.

One of the ads was purely negative and not attributable, one was clearly advocating for Don Brash and would be attributable, and the Brethren were advised that the third one because of its use of blue ticks, was considered most likely needing to be authorised and to be attributed.

So what did the Brethren do? After having received this advice from the Chief Electoral Officer, they produced at least seven separate ads, all with the National Party’s blue ticks and the National Party’s election slogan & Party vote, change the government. So the $1.2m they spent should have been authorised as advised by the Electoral Office, and therefore attributed to National.

We know National and the Brethren were complicit. But none of this shows the Chief Electoral Office in good light either. They either pulled the wool over the Chief Electoral Officer’s eyes or he was deliberately looking the other way.

35 comments on “The real crime with the Brethren spending”

  1. You’re quite wrong, Eddie. You’re deliberately making up garbage.

    The vast majority of union spending told voters not to vote National. Only that spending which specifically told voters to vote Labour was included in Labour’s cap.

    The unions worked in cohoots with the Labour Party to run an anti-National campaign that was not included in Labour’s spending. That was perfectly legal under the Electoral Act. It was no different to the Exclusive Brethren running an anti-green campaign.

  2. You guys seem to have a real problem with the Brethren. Are you afraid that they might REALLY have God on their side?

  3. Robinson 3

    Um Prick- I think you’ll find the majority of union materials said these are the employment policies of each party – when you vote bear them in mind. But sure if you want to equate democratic and open institutions with a secretive religious sect dedicated to Taliban-like social mores then that’s fine by me.

    It’s also worth noting that it was the Greens that secured exemptions from the employment relations act for the EB based on their religious beliefs and non-participation in society. And this is the thanks they got? Oh and don’t think for a second the EB haven’t used that exemption to milk their workers for every cent of profit they can. That’s how they can afford a (very participatory) $1.2m election campaign.

  4. Eddie 4

    If God’s on their side then we’re all in trouble mate. The Brethren need right wing governments to rule the world because only then will the Rapture occur. That’s when the world comes to a messy end, we all die but the Brethren glide up to Heaven on a cosmic esculator.

    So in effect we’re singing from the same song book really. We think Tory rule is the end of the world and so do they.

  5. Shane 5

    Robinson – you said it.
    These guys are defending the EB because they support a National led government, full stop. Otherwise they would write them off as a weird cult like the rest of us.

    Trade unions stay above the radar with regard to elections. The EB stay below it, which suggests they have something to hide.

  6. Oh, I get it. Whatever unions do is legitimate, because they are your friends, but whatever the exclusive brethren do is illegitimate, because you don’t like the message they’re putting across.

    If the EBs are so awful, why not ban them? The Taliban are on the international list of terrorist organisations. Why not add the EBs? Or do you only want people you agree with to participate in democratic debate?

  7. Not just the Brethren will be raptured Eddie (they just THINK they’re the only ones!) – repent while you have the chance bro!

  8. ak 8

    Thank you Prick. Think you could do us all a wee favour in future? Next time you run out of arguments, try to hold on till you get home: there’s plenty of room to smear material of this quality on the walls of kiwibog – and no one over there will mind or notice.

    Eddie: loved it! still chuckling…!!!

  9. No, ak. Eddie tried to draw a spurious distinction between the lawful election activities that the unions were engaged in, opposing the National Party, which were not included in Labour’s spending cap, and the lawful election activities that the exclusive brethren were engaged in, opposing the Green Party, and which were not included in National’s spending cap.

    There is no difference between the two at all, with the exception that Eddie wants to protect the rights of unions to say and spend what they like, and deny the right of every other organisation in New Zealand to say and spend what they like. The only reason for this is that Eddie agrees with the Unions and not others.

    The fact that you don’t like the Exclusive Brethren, ak, is not actually a good reason for denying their right to express their opinion.

  10. Luke 10

    One major difference between the unions and the brethren is that the Unions are certainly mainstream compared to brethren, using National’s favourite phrase of the time (although i do not like the phrase). It shows the hypocrisy of Nationals election strategy. Unions represent 100’s of thousands of hard working NZers, as opposed to the EB who are a very small secretive sect.
    The other major difference is that everyone knows about the unions support for Labour, and it all was entirely within electoral laws. The unions do not have secret agendas, and do not give fake addresses on their material.

  11. ZK Muggletonspofin 11

    I hope this might explain it for you…er…Prick. Labour has an open and frank relationship with many unions. That relationship is long standing and is always open to debate, for example, the PPTA has recently opposed many positions taken by the Labour-led Government. Note that no one in Labour or Government is hidding from its relationship with organisations such as unions or many business organisations, for that matter. On the other hand, the National Party enetered into secretive dialogue with the Exclusive Bretheren and has since 2005 attempted to hide and distance itselve from them.

    Ask yourself Mr Prick, why is John Key so keen to avoid any complicity with these shadowy men? Why don’t you ask John Key if he now welcomes the support of the Exclusive Bretheran?

  12. Lee C 12

    If Key is guilty of all this, then the lABOUR PARTY SHOULD QUESTION HIM IN PARLIAMENT AND FORCE HIM TO ANSWER. tHEN HE WILL BE CAUGHT OUT AS A LIAR.

    Because surely there must be some evidence that he has done these things. Otherwise how could so many accuse him of it?

    We need to see the evidence. Come On Labour, do your duty by the country and expose this lying cheat for the fraud he is.

    In the meantime here is an article about how desperate Labour is to pass the EFb and get the cash it needs to fight its election. Interstingly, whipping up a bit of hysteria about ‘People like John Key and the Exclusive Brethren rorting the electoral process’ (Hansard, Helen Clark Sept 15th 2007) would assist in the EFB’s smooth passage, would it not?

    Of course, if you were to believe that, it would involve accepting that yo are all being taken for mugs, with the KEY/Brethren?rort line….

    Like I say let us see the evidence….

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/story.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10462315&pnum=0

  13. all_your_base 13

    For me the difference is pretty straightforward.

    Labour and those groups generally supportive of their policies were straight-up about it and complied with the law with regard to third party support. National and their secretive backers were not honest and didn’t comply.

    Brash has been shown to be a liar. Key has thus far wriggled out of it.

  14. Robinson 14

    Lee – Labour is too scared of seeming “negative” (fuck knows why – it’s some liberal impulse maybe) to call Key out. That’s why the standard is doing it. God knows someone on the left needs to show some balls and integrity…

  15. burt 15

    Did the EB spend $1.2m? That would be best resolved by the EB publishing the receipts. Until such time they have only themselves to blame for the mystery they have created. If $1.2m as quoted to justify the EFB and the reality are miles apart then the EB will have a very big and effective ( Free ) campaign product for 2008.

    However, it seems to me that if $1.2m buys some pamphlets that only very few ever remember seeing, then a million or so pledge cards must have cost a shit load more than $800K ! I think somebody’s telling porkies somewhere.

  16. Robinson 16

    Burt – the EB probably spent badly (they are dicks after all) but $1.2m badly spent is still $1.2m spent. If we’re gonna talk badly spent money then surely the “baby hung in red tape” billboards should never have gone into Labour’s spend.

  17. Lee C 17

    Robinson ‘Labour is scared aof seeming negative’ – I don’t buy that. Helen never shied away from ‘haters and wreckers’ ‘cancerous and corrosive’ or ‘last cab off the rack’.

    I have to conclude either:
    Labour have no evidence (only hear-say)
    or they are waitng for the month before the election to release it.

    Either way it is shabby.

    By the way check out Matt’s Herald article about how spending on the last election is still not resoved:

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/story.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10462315&pnum=0

  18. Lee C 18

    Eddie: in fact the whole of your rather wordy intor to this thread can be boiled down to one statement:

    “If it [the Brethren’s spending] had been attributable [to the National Party] it would have put them way over their cap and in deep donkey do with the law.”

    The point is; they are not in ‘deep donkey doo with the law’ So we have to ask some questions.

    The first is why?

    I can only assume there is no case to answer, otherwise, the police would have been asked to investigate whether there was a primae facie case, wouldn’t they?

    so, that reduces you first point to speculation.

    You say:
    ‘We know for certain as a result of emails in “The Hollow Men” that the Brethren wrote to Don Brash and John Key seeking to support National’s campaign. We know for certain as a result of the documents released at the conclusion of the police enquiry that the same Brethren spokesman later wrote to the Chief Electoral Officer informing him that the Brethren wished to spend $1.2 million in a campaign to elect Don Brash.”

    Yes, we know, and it is on record that Brash lied about this, and resigned.

    That begs the question, why has the enquiry not reached a similar conclusion about Key?

    Why has he not resigned. It was serious enough for the ‘leader of the oppostion to do so, why not his Fiannace Spokesman?’

    Perhaps there was no case to answer. Again your position relies on speculation.

    The Brethren took advice and ignored it.

    Your point presupposes that the collusion was so strong between National and the Brethren that together they attemnpted to work out a way to spend the Brethrens’; cash without having to have it accounted for?

    This begs the questions;
    “Why did National do such a hamfisted job of ignoring the Electoral Ofiices advice, surely they could have seen it would lead straight back to them?”

    The answer is, of course, National didn’t do a hamfisted job, because although it doesn’t meet your speculative needs, their involvement was not to such an extent that the Brethren’s rather naive approach could be attributable.

    Because if it could, National would have been prosecuted. Surely you don’t suppose that a judiciary as heavily patronised by Helen Clark would have let that one pass them by?

    The conclusion there, is, there was no case to answer.

    Re: Your use of the word ‘attributable’
    “So the $1.2m they spent should have been authorised as advised by the Electoral Office, and therefore attributed to National.”

    but, you are attributing the term as if it proves collusion, when nothing in the article relating to the Eb’s contact with the Electoral Office after the initial contact with National supports this. Hager rather neatly sidesteps this gaping hole in the conspiracy argument by dropping an aside into the Select Committee suggesting National actually designed the leaflets for the EB! But he claism it as hearsay, not a provable, and has no proof.

    The offence, if any at this stage lies with the Electoral Office. You say:

    “But none of this shows the Chief Electoral Office in good light either. They either pulled the wool over the Chief Electoral Officer’s eyes or he was deliberately looking the other way.”

    So, to summarise:

    The Electoral Office is in a conspiracy to support the Exclusive Brethren in their conspiracy to engage in a conspiracy with the National Party to sidestep the Electoral Act.

    Now if this is not all hearsay, and not provable, why have neither
    The Exclusive Brethren
    The National Party or
    The Electora Office been prosecuted after the police enquiry?

    I invite you to draw your own conclusions.

  19. burt 19

    Roninson

    Let me see if I have this correct. The EB badly spent their money and they are successful business men. Successful enough to have a spare $1.2m to throw around at an election. The EFB defines a large amount for campaigning as $60K, so 20x that ($1.2m) is a massive amount of money.

    Has anything you have said been featured on a Tui billboard before Robinson – “They just spent their money badly” has got to be a candidate.

    Come on guys come clean. I know the normal Labour route is Deny, Delay, Denigrate but this is starting to look like a home goal.

    Either Labour spent a shit load more than the $800K they initially denied they overspent then retrospectively validated or the EB spent nothing like $1.2m

  20. Lee C 20

    Now that is an interesting idea. I honestly did not think of that.

    Are you suggesting Labour have also lied about how much they spent over the $800,00?

  21. burt 21

    Well Lee, a few pamphlets that most people never saw for $1.2m or a pledge card that almost everybody in the country knows about for $800K.

    Someone is full of it somewhere!

  22. Nih 22

    You know your god is false when he hates all the same people you do.

  23. Tane 23

    Burt, a large part of making your message effective is getting your distribution right. Clearly the Brethren suck at this.

  24. Lee C 24

    Tane:Message from Head Office coming through. Reads as follows:

    ‘Can Party members please refrain from sloppy lapses in their posts? We are working very hard behind the scenes to disqualify Key from becoming PM, and posts such as:

    “Burt, a large part of making your message effective is getting your distribution right. Clearly the Brethren suck at this.”

    Is not helping.

    Clearly this was a slip of the keyboard, by comrade tane and and should have read:

    “Burt, a large part of making your message effective is getting your distribution right. Clearly National suck at this.”

    Comrade Tane is, as we speak having his balls crushed in a vice until he recants.

    Long live Helen!

    Message over.

  25. Tane 25

    LeeC, it’s established fact that the Brethren did a large part of the Nats’ groundwork in the provinces so chances are the Brethren did their own distribution. But hey, if you think it’s the Nats then that’s fine by me.

  26. Robinson 26

    There were also half (or were they full?) page colour ads in major newspapers – the “a few fliers” meme is as disingenuous as teh “just six businessmen” meme. And Burt no matter how much you use it or bold it “retrospectively” ain’t gonna get pick up. It’s almost as dumb as “lollinomics”

  27. Lee C 27

    Tane Can you explain that statement?
    “it’s established fact that the Brethren did a large part of the Nats’ groundwork in the provinces so chances are the Brethren did their own distribution.”

    It sounds like the Nats and the Brethren are practically indistinguishable from each other, but I don’t see much detail just a sweeping generalisation.

    What do you mean precisely by ‘the Nat’s groundwork’ like they mortar-bombed the provinces before the Nats sent in their crack troops?

    It’s all rather vague: Were the EBs acting as distributers of Nats literature, going door to door, etc??

    By the way – I am really interested in this: Can you provide a link/evidence so I can see these ‘established facts’ because I’ve seen so much hearsay on this situation, I’d really like to get to the bottom of it.

    PS good to see you back ‘on message’.

  28. Tane 28

    Hi LeeC, yes the Brethren did a lot of the distribution of material, phone polling etc for the Nats in the last election – basically the groundwork needed to mount a successful campaign. This was especially prevalent in areas where the Nats had a weak party organisation. A lot of this is outlined in the Hollow Men – have you read it yet? – but also came out through various media. I haven’t got it on me right now but could track it down for you at a later date. Anyone else got the details on hand?

  29. Lee C 29

    Thanks – to my eternal shame I haven’t read The Hollow Men Yet.

    You have to appreciate I am going to filter much of what I read for factual substance rather than opinion, because I feel that much of this discourse is a mixture of claims not backed up by evidence, or with slim evidence.

    I’ll give an example:

    In the Select Committee Hager claims he is pretty sure the Nats even designed the Brethrens’ leaflets. But had no proof. But was almost completely certain… etc etc.

    The reason I say this is because I’m all for the truth. Honest!

    But I think the EB/Key bandwagon is being maintained as a trojan horse to propel the EFB through into law.

    My problem with that is that when you look at Hager’s assertion, coupled with how badly drafted the EFB is, it all starts to smell a bit ripe.

    FOr me, that isn’t good enough. It’s like me saying “I’m pretty sure that Helen Clark is a lesbian I can’t give proof, but I’m quite certain.” Then on that basis, I don’t know, outlaw homosexuality, because it suits my narrow political purpose at the time…..

    If Key is guilty (as the innuendo-mill would have it) cool – prosecute.

    If he isn’t stop trying to villify him so that the EFB can be piggy-backed into Law.

  30. Lee C 31

    No Thomas, he didn’t sound like he was lying when he likened the EFB to something the Nazis might consider, until he got before the Select Committee to once again, plug his book.

    But again, for all his sincerity and honest candour there is still no actual evidence coming from Hager.

    Instead he says things like ‘I used to think he was alright… but now I see him as someone who is driven solely by ambition…”

    So in the absence of actual positive black and white proof or evidence, we are invited by Hager’s faint praise to accept that Key is corrupt.

    Now, ask yourself this, if you were lookign fro a smash follow-up best-seller to ‘The Hollow Men’ what would be better than a similarly damning work about Brash’s heir?

    And yet, nothing. Just innuendo. Smear. Assummption, hear-say, unsupported opinion, masquerading as informed insight.

    Honestly, I really want to see the evidence, but until I do, I refuse to be sucked in like all the other sheep appear to be. Just a personal thing, no offence meant to anyone else.

    Is the world flat or a globe? Depends which orthodoxy you subscribe to, I suppose.

  31. Lee – don’t be ashamed about not reading the Hollow Men – I forced myself to, and would conclude that its best use would be as a cure for insomnia. I went to school with Nicky Hager, and he was as boring as batshit then too! It seems as though nothing changes!!

    BTW – do you think the guys at The Standard will start a post to discuss the local body election results, where the left has taken a spanking?

    To quote sonic, “Thought not”!!!

  32. Lee C 33

    It will be interesting to see the usual ‘votes at local level tend to be protests against governments in their mid-term doldrums and can’t be translated into an indication of the mood of the elctorate when the real elections come around’, line.

    Except; these voters were the ones committed enough to turn up. Usually when a government is doing well, the electorate stay at home, because they are happy with the way things are going. When they start to get off their asses to protest, that constitues ‘straws in the wind’….

    If this is a protest against anything, it is against how the electorte perceive that their money is being mispent….
    Will that translate to a national/party level?

    I’d say yes.

  33. Nih 34

    Do you guys honestly think being left or right makes a difference in local elections? So sure, if you’re National to the core you may vote for a National MP who is now standing for mayor, if only out of familiarity and trust.

    My impression thought is that those sort of policies have no bearing at that level. You can’t change immigration or change government policy as the mayor of Smalltown. Or Auckland, for that matter.

    I’d almost throw out there that support for tax cuts reverses when you’re talking about rates, but I have a hunch the outcome would just show no connection.

  34. Thomas 35

    IV2
    I can’t see whether the book is boring or not makes any difference
    It is whether it is tue or not, that is what’s important
    And let us face it, Brash resigned because of the publication
    Makes you think Eh ?
    Or It makes me think

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