It’s looking very likely that John Banks will be gone from parliament by Monday.
Meanwhile, several mainstream journalists, head in sand, are going to bat for John Banks, claiming he hasn’t really done anything wrong with respect to the verdict of guilty for filing a false election funding return. Either it’s the way things necessarily are and everyone does it (Michelle Boag), or the case should never have come to court (Colin Espiner), or a pox on all their houses (Kerre McIvor).
McIvor seems to think that the alliance between the Internet Party and Mana is as bad as banks manipulations to break electoral funding laws in order to keep it secret that Dotcom was a donor to his campaign.
The cynical expediency of a well-known political and social conservative joining forces with a desperate, struggling political party with a neo-liberal ethos can only be equalled by the cynicism of Mana and the Internet Party jumping into bed.
There are few attractive people in this political drama.
Banks is a polarising figure, admired or loathed. Graham McCready, the convicted tax fraudster and the man who brought the private prosecution against Banks after the police declined to lay charges, is an odd creature.
The charms of Kim Dotcom have never been apparent to me and they didn’t become any more obvious in this case. And the odd little man who threw a bucket of manure over Banks as he walked into court was contemptible as well.
Got that? These are all unattractive people, so just as bad as law breaker John banks.
Espiner, staggeringly claims the case never should have gone to court:
But I believe Banks is an honest and principled man, who has given most of his working life to public service. And goodness knows that’s an often thankless and underpaid task.
Banks has been found guilty of filing a false electoral return over his 2010 Auckland mayoral campaign. It was a trifling matter that should never have gone to trial. And the penalty he has suffered is already far greater than any a court could impose.
And, while Banks under pressure lost it and swore at a journalist, Boag is just in grand denial mode:
Boag said by long-held convention, local body and national political candidates weren’t expected to probe closely the anonymity of donations given to them. However, Wylie’s ruling effectively said that Banks “should have probed it”.
“That should send a bit of a chill up the spine of every political candidate, because the convention has been that you keep political candidates removed from where the money comes from, to avoid the risk of being seen to be exercising undue influence over their decisions.
“That’s been prevalent in the NZ political system for some time. This judgment says that’s not good enough: you have to question those supposedly anonymous donations if you suspect you may have received them from someone and it’s not on the form.”
No, that’s not how it went down, Michelle. The thing is, it wasn’t just an anonymous donation that Banks failed to question deeply enough. Banks manipulated the giving of the donation so that he wouldn’t have to make public who the donation was from. Dotcom did not want or ask for his donation to be anonymous. He was happy for it to be public knowledge, as for instance explained in this article by David Fisher:
Bodyguard Wayne Tempero was present, as was one of Dotcom’s butlers. His company chief financial officer also attended briefly.
“He mentioned the elections were coming up [and] he was raising money for his campaign,” Dotcom said. “He said it was hard to raise money in New Zealand, the mayoral campaign was coming up and he’s trying to raise funds for that.
“I kind of liked the guy. I said, ‘I’m happy to help.’ I told Wayne to write a cheque for $50,000.
“His [Mr Banks’] eyes got a little bit bigger at that moment.”
Mr Tempero asked the chief financial officer to come into the room to write the cheque.
“John said, ‘Wait a minute’,” Dotcom recalled last night. “‘It would be good if you could split it up into two payments of 25 [thousand dollars], then I don’t declare publicly who made it’.”
But, behind all the bluster, it’s looking very likely that Banks will be resigning from parliement next week.
Act MP John Banks has announced his resignation from Parliament, effective from this Friday.
Prime Minister John Key said tonight: “Mr Banks’ resignation was the right thing to do under the circumstances.”
“Given the proximity of the resignation to the General Election on September 20, the Government intends to seek Parliament’s support not to hold a by-election in the Epsom seat, and will be taking a motion to the House in the first sitting week back.”
Banks said he would write to Parliament’s Speaker, David Carter, tomorrow advising him of his resignation from Friday.
“This timeframe allows a number of constituency, administrative and staffing matters in Epsom and Wellington to be dealt with over the next few days,” he said.
Labour leader David Cunliffe said the resignation was “inevitable but should have come a lot sooner”.
“The only reason Mr Banks has remained in Parliament for so long is because John Key and National needed his vote. Mr Key even tried to minimise the importance of the offence by describing Mr Banks as an ‘honest’ man despite the High Court judge finding otherwise.”
Cunliffe said the public had a right to expect high standards of elected officials which have been in decline under National.