Which was it David- anonymous donation or trust?

Written By: - Date published: 10:47 am, November 21st, 2007 - 35 comments
Categories: dpf - Tags:

The Hysteria- with a capital H- over at Kiwiblog around the Electoral Finance Bill has been mystifying for many of us in blogland. Sure David Farrar is a key National Party figure, and is no doubt worried that the Bill will mean his party will no longer be able to buy elections, or more rightly use others to buy elections. But is that the real story, is it enough to explain the OUTRAGE?

Perhaps this blast from the past might help explain the situation. David Farrar was Mark Blumsky’s campaign manager in 2005, and lo and behold who was the biggest recipient of an anonymous donation in that election, why Mr Blumsky himself of course.

The Wellington Central National Party Campaign benefited to the tune of $38,500 from a wealthy, but obviously very shy, benefactor. Now in itself this is interesting given what a strong advocate of transperancy we know David to be. However even more interesting is the curious comment from Mark Blumsky in the Scoop article above.

When contacted by A Week of It Mr Blumsky seemed certain his donations had gone through a trust and seemed surprised they had been included on the return as anonymous.

Murky indeed. Was it anonymous or was it through a trust? If it was through a trust, who is really behind it all?

David Farrar has been a vocal, some might say shrill, advocate for transparency in the electoral finance process in recent times. It seems this is a very recent conversion. To this writer he looks like he is sitting in a mighty fragile glass house.

35 comments on “Which was it David- anonymous donation or trust? ”

  1. AlexFreeman 1

    I wonder how many pairs of underpants, and sheets for that matter, DPF has gone through this week?

  2. Don’t tell lies, Ralph. The Labour Party received $315,000 from eight anonymous donations in 2005. Five of them were larger than the anonymous donation to Mark Blumsky’s campaign.

  3. The Double Standard 3

    I’m not really sure what you point is Ralph – that a donation was made to Blumsky? I’m sure if there was anything incorrect in the return the Chief Electoral Officer would have looked into it – after all, it was for a National candidate.

    Here’s a little fact for you to contemplate

    Election 2005
    Total declared spending

    Labour – $4,633,162.98

    National – $3,797,428.77

    So Teh Party spent nearly $1 million more than the Nats. Who is buying elections around here anyway?

  4. the sprout 4

    tds, the operative word in your calculations is “declared”

  5. Patrick 5

    TDS – You should note that going into the 2005 election campaign National only had 27 MPs as opposed to Labour’s 51. Therefore Labour were entitled to vastly more funding from the Electoral Commission. I don’t have the figures at hand – but I seem to remember that it was a pretty big difference.

  6. The Double Standard 6

    Spout – you mean Teh Party actually spent more than they declared – well, I’m not surprised. There was the pledge card after all.

    Patrick – so you agree that Teh Party bought the election then?

  7. thomas 7

    David Farrar was Mark Blumsky’s campaign manager in 2005 I didn’t know that I thought he got in on the list

  8. Patrick 8

    Do I agree that Labour spent more money on the election than National? At face value, yes.

    However it has been proven that the Execlusive Brethern spent over one million dollars on what was essentially the National campaign, and not included in National’s funding. If you add one million dollars to the figure that you gave, National spent more on the election than Labour, dispite being given less tax payer funds.

    So in summary, no Labour did not buy the election. The won it through having policy and people that more of the population agreed with and then having the political ability to actually form a govenment.

  9. Patrick,

    Labour spent a million dollars more than National lawfully on its campaign. Then Labour spent a million dollars of taxpayers money that it was not lawfully allowed to spend, which was not declared on its election expense returns.

    There was no requirement that the EFB’s expenditure attacking the Government was included in National’s returns. Just as there was no requirement that union advertising attacking National needed to be included in Labour Party returns.

    Clearly, you have a problem distinguishing between legal expenditure, and illegal expenditure. Labour spent two million more than National. A million of it was illegal. Yet the Standard still parrots the line that National tried to “buy” the election.

    This on top of $69 million of government advertising promoting Labour Party policies.

    Yet the Standard justifies limiting the right of non-Labour supporters to criticise the Government. Crikey. If your arguments are so shoddy that you can’t win the debate, even with 70 times more money than the Exclusive Brethren, then what right does Labour have to govern?

  10. Patrick 10

    IP, obviously we have a very different understanding of events in the 2005 election.

    As I understand it, the Exclusive Brethren spent over a million dollars of their own money in an anonymous campaign which was in fact orchestrated with the help of National and certainly not without the knowledge of much of National’s leadership.

    Should this money have been included in National’s election funding? I don’t doubt it for a second. Was it? Nope.

    As for the Labour party ‘buying’ the election. They did spend roughly $800,000 in a manner that was subsequently found to be improper, however this was quite different to the pre-existing general understanding of the law. So much so, that every party in government, including National, had money to pay back.

    What’s my take on that? Well, for one, I don’t think any party spent any of that money thinking that they were breaking the law, and I’d say they were all very surprised.

    I hope that the EFB tidies up a few of these situations, and certainly I agree with it’s goal. However given the problems that we’ve experienced in the past due to these differing understandings of the minutiae of legislation, I really hope that the EFB is as clear as it can possibly be by the time is makes in into law.

  11. AncientGeek 11

    The election campaign expenses declared above were only for the 3 months leading up to the 2005 election.

    Does anyone remember the National Party billboard campaign (known as the Iwi/Kiwi campaign) that started in about March 2005 – ie well BEFORE expenses had to be declared. I don’t know how many of those billboards there were, but it was the biggest advertising billboard campaign I’ve ever seen. Almost all of them were in prime advertising locations.

    My guess would be that:- if the expenses that campaign cost had to be declared using the campaign rules (ie not what it ‘cost’), then add at least 2-3 million dollars into the National Party campaign.

    The billboard campaign was a clear attempt to do an end-run around the election campaign rules in 2005. It was an attempt to use marketing money to stifle debate about policy and to switch to simplified slogans. More importantly a lot of the money for the campaign came from parliament – ie misused for direct political campaigning.

    That campaign is what has most of the parties in parliament planning on voting for a EFB this year. The major part of the bill is to extend the campaign period (and its rules) out for the current effective campaign period. Doesn’t matter what else gets passed in the final EFB – that bit will be.

  12. Patrick,

    Whatever your opinion may be, the Chief Electoral Officer–the man charged with upholding electoral law–found that there was no case for National to answer. Electoral law did not prohibit third parties from attacking a political party. Just as the unions’ campaigns against National–which amounted easily to a million dollars in advertising and resources–did not count in Labour’s spend.

    You claim that political parties believed they were entitled to spend parliamentary money on their election campaigns in 2005. You could only possibly hold that view if you exclude the fact that the Auditor-General specifically warned political parties well before the election that they were not to use parliamentary money for electioneering. You could also only possibly hold that view if you exclude the fact that Labour’s Mike Smith agreed that it was an election expense, before the election. You could only possibly hold that view if you ignore that the Chief Electoral Officer, the Auditor-General, and the Solicitor-General all agreed that it was electioneering.

    Labour willingly spent a million dollars of public money that it was not entitled to spend at the last election. No amount of rewriting of history from you will change it. Labour thought they would get away with it. When they didn’t, and were forced to pay it back, they ran out of money.

    The Electoral Finance Bill is Labour’s way of “levelling a playing field” that became uneven once Labour started thieving public money to get itself re-elected.

    National obeyed the rules in 2005. Labour broke the rules, and outspent National by $2 million. This in addition to the $69 million Labour used (yes, that’s right, SIXTY-NINE MILLION) of public money promoting its own policies.

    The Standard has a lot of gall claiming the EFB fixes dirty money at election time. It does nothing of the sort. It simply entrenches Labour’s ability to raid the public purse, and stops anybody else from buying time to compete with the Government’s message.

  13. the sprout 13

    wow a massive 250 people turned up for the wellington anti-EFB march.
    what a complete joke. you get more people at a sausage sizzle outside the warehouse.
    another PR disaster for DPF. it seems the public just aren’t buying into the mock outrage and courageous campaign to protect the rights of big money to manipulate elections.

  14. Billy 14

    C’mon, Sprout. It was probably a “rogue” march. That is the excuse I give whenever an inconvenient event occurs. You know: “rogue” poll. “Rogue” rugby world cup.

  15. isn’t that what the nats have been saying about the last three election results?

  16. the sprout 16

    250 people marching against the EFB.
    hilarious

  17. Billy 17

    Sorry, my first post didn’t show up. Tried again because I am extremely diligent.

  18. Matthew Pilott 18

    IP, your 69 mil – still trying to suppress a democratic govt eh? For shame. (for those unsure about this, IP thinks it’s sweet to censor government departments. He reckons that people will still know the way to the hospital, and that (I guess) that’s all they’re good for. Gives you quite an indication about him eh? Me, I’d like to know what my government is up to, not to mention how my representatives are funded! Different strokes I guess…)

    P.S IP – no-one believes you when you outright lie, so don’t say that it was Labour that spent the $69 mil, put your usual spin on it and it might at least be believeable after the first glance, if not the second 😉

    P.P.S captcha: cemetery Key – now that’s too far, even for the likes of me! if not the loveable rogues up in the Ureweras…

  19. Billy 19

    Matthew Pilott,

    Unfortunately, Labour has given us every reason to be cynical. Remember those public services ads in 2005? They were obviously part of a very important campaign to keep the populous informed about government services. Still, I’m not sure why it was necessary that they were all headed: “You’re better off with Labour”. Of course, that was not campaigning.

  20. How is that a lie, Matthew? The Labour government spent $69 million in 2005 advertising its policies to the public.

    I’ve never advocated that the government should not inform people about its services. You’re deliberately misrepresenting my position, because you can’t justify your own.

    If it isn’t censorship to limit third parties from advocating their policies and attacking the government, then how is it censorship to limit the government from advocating its policies and supporting the government?

    Why is it that a million dollars from the Exclusive Brethren attacking the government buys evil voter influence, but $69 million supporting government policies doesn’t buy votes?

  21. Leftie 21

    This is great stuff.

    AncientGeek, I remember those National Party billboards were everywhere. They were even on tables in many local bars. There were huge ones on the side of pubs. Many I saw were roadside to farmers properties (funny that).
    I agree, I have never seen a billboard campaign like it. I remember thinking they must be costing huge money.

    I’m sensing some desperation in some of the shady posts on here. Like something is being squeeeeeezed.

  22. Billy 22

    That’s right. We’re desperate on the back of the news that National holds a 14 point lead over Labour.

  23. The Double Standard 23

    Leftie – desparation? Not at all. Merely a little frustration at the the continuing effort to whitewash Labour’s behaviour in 2005, while attempting to smear Blumsky and Farrar.

    It is a proven fact that Labour’s election spend exceeded National’s in 2005. Labour were the ones found to be substantially in the wrong by the AG for illegally dipping into the Parlimentary budget:

    From 6 June to 30 June 2005 (incl gst)

    Labour spent $531,710 of which $315,474 was outside the scope of the appropriation.
    National spent $54,750 with $6,449 ruled out.

    From 1 July to 16 September 2005 (excl gst)

    Labour spent $635,591 of which $452,489 was outside the scope of the appropriation
    National spent $81,520 with $4,856 ruled out.

    I know its hard for you to accept, but it was Labour that spent the most, and rorted the taxpayer the most in 2005, and Labour are the ones re-writing the law to suit themselves. Can you see nothing wrong with this?

  24. Leftie 24

    Yet you and your friends can’t resist coming back here.

  25. The Double Standard 25

    Well, why not? Its a free country (until 1 Jan 2007 anyway)

    Perhaps you should ask Tane/Sam/etc why they can’t resist trolling on KB?

  26. Leftie 26

    What, am I supposed to join the dark side now? Not gonna happen bud.

  27. westmere 27

    National and the Brethren – the Greens ask THE question, but will they get an answer?

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0711/S00404.htm

    Whatever happened to Steven Joyce anyway? Perhaps a fearless investigative journalist could find out.

  28. The Double Standard 28

    Westmere – ever wondered where Labour got the $800k to pay back what they stole? Well, keep wondering.

    Can you point to where the EB did anything illegal in 2005 that justifies the hysteria from Teh Party and the Greens?

    Thought not.

    Just heard Keith Locke moaning on the radion about how police handle protesters. I wonder if he would similarly defend the rights of the EB to demonstrate?

  29. Pascal's bookie 29

    Double Standard, you are right that if the National party wrote the copy for the EB’s campaign then the EB’s didn’t break any rules.

  30. rod 30

    Haven’t heard J.Key or B.English or their devoted poodles describing John Howard’s proposed $39 billion tax cuts as, “a desparate and blatant bribe for re-election”. Funny that eh !

  31. the sprout 31

    yeah. when Nat/Lib/Rep do it, it’s just “common sense” – that good old trusty populist standby.
    when Lab do it it’s a bribe or social engineering.

  32. STC 32

    IP and TDS, its a proven fact that National spent vastly in excess of Labour, and also used as much public money for campaigning as they could. Right from the start of the year in 2005, if you’ll recall, there were billboards and advertisements on the back of buses – those things don’t pay for themselves.

    The trick is, National thought the election would be in July, and so the ‘three months before the campaign’ limit didn’t capture all the money spent by National.

    So stop pretending like National is purer than the driven snow when they simply got away with it.

  33. frank 33

    Legislation designed to crush a repeat of a prior election’s tactics (the billboards, specifically) makes the rather simple error of assuming that’s the tactic for the NEXT election. And please, stop pretending that HM is gospel. It was a political book, full of assumptions and erratic conclusions. Another writer, with the emails of Labour’s leadership, could have done an equally half-arsed job of painting the Reds as criminals. Fortunately, we didn’t need that book. We had the AG’s rulings.

  34. The Double Standard 34

    STD you pillock – I’ve quoted the official govt figures showing that Labour outspent National by about a million dollars. You say “its a proven fact that National spent vastly in excess of Labour, and also used as much public money for campaigning as they could”. Well, where is your proof? Looks like you’re lieing again

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