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Will DPF condemn National for hiding the identity of its donors?

Written By: - Date published: 7:35 am, February 11th, 2020 - 59 comments
Categories: blogs, David Farrar, dpf, election 2020, election funding, electoral systems, jacinda ardern, national, nz first, same old national, Simon Bridges, uncategorized, winston peters - Tags:

There is this humdinger of a post by David Farrar about breaches of electoral law relating to donations.  

He says this:

I blogged a few days ago that there was almost no doubt that electoral donation laws had been broken, and the only question was which ones.

This is a very significant statement. The Electoral Commission could have just said these matters need further investigation. But they have categorically stated it is their belief that donation returns from NZ First broke the law. The job of the Police is to work out who is responsible.

Basically NZ First were running a scheme to launder their donors through their foundation, and it has been declared illegal by the Electoral Commission.

Will the Prime Minister suspend the Deputy Prime Minister as he is now under Police investigation? Of course not.

I thought I would borrow most of his words for this post.  With a bit of tweaking the ill advised nature of the post becomes clear.

I blogged [16 months ago] that there was almost no doubt that electoral donation laws had been broken, and the only question was which ones.

This is a very significant statement. The [Serious Fraud Office] could have just said these matters need further investigation. But they have [laid charges]. The job of the [SFO] is to work out who is responsible.

Basically [National was involved in] a scheme to [hide the identity of a significant donor to the party].

Will [National] suspend [Simon Bridges for his involvement?]  Of course not.

I don’t think that National is in a position to claim the moral high ground here.  And from what I know of the situation the arrangement appears to be cute rather than illegal.  Although representations made to the donors will need further investigation and analysis.

But they will go to town on this.  And hope that when the identities of the four persons charged are released none of them have current associations with the National Party.

After all isn’t this what Simon Bridges has said?

Please no speculation about who these people are.  They have rights of privacy up to the time the Court determines their details should not be suppressed.

59 comments on “Will DPF condemn National for hiding the identity of its donors? ”

  1. I think that the views of Andrew Geddis on the NZFF donation referral to the SFO are much more useful than Farrar's.

    The NZ First donations investigation had to happen. And ignorance is no excuse

    Contrary to Winston Peter’s assertions to the contrary, I know evidence when I see it. And the documentary material that Guyon Espiner shared with me for his RNZ stories …revealed something very unusual taking place.

    In short, the material appeared to show people with involvement in running the NZ First Party accepting donations intended to help that party, banking them into a “New Zealand First Foundation” account separate from the party proper, then using that money to pay for party costs. But because those donations hadn’t made it into the NZ First Party’s account, the NZ First party secretary hadn’t reported them to the Electoral Commission.

    Even given the possibility I wasn’t seeing the whole picture, and even accounting for law’s inherent uncertainties, it was very hard to see how this activity could comply with the Electoral Act 1993’s mandates. Which is what the Electoral Commission has now concluded, having examined the matter for itself.

    As such, consistent with its obligations under the Electoral Act, it has sent the matter on to the police for them to look at. And given the way the police handled the allegations relating to the donation to the National Party, it is also no surprise that they immediately have referred the matter on to the Serious Fraud Office.

    https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2020/02/11/1028747/second-sfo-inquiry-into-donations-a-worry-for-nz-democracy

    This is much more awkward situation in an election year for Jacinda Ardern and Labour as coalition partners with Peters and NZ First than it is for National.

    • mickysavage 1.1

      This is much more awkward situation in an election year for Jacinda Ardern and Labour as coalition partners with Peters and NZ First than it is for National.

      Why is that Pete? National is the party involved in the laundering of money that has resulted in SFO charges being laid. Labour has no such problem.

      • Pete George 1.1.1

        Yes, National have donation problems of their own. They claim that no one in the party has been charged by the SFO, but at least are tainted by close association.

        But Labour have a close association in coalition with NZ First, and that must cause problems for them, depending on how it is handled. Especially with the history of 2008.

        Greens and ACT may be the beneficiaries in the election.

        • mickysavage 1.1.1.1

          I don’t get it Pete. Labour is in trouble because another party engaged in dubious behaviour but National is not even thought *it* was enagaged in dubious behaviour.

          • Sacha 1.1.1.1.1

            Easier to sweep things under one's own carpet, old chap.

            • Sacha 1.1.1.1.1.1

              However, it can all turn to custard if you treat the staff like crap and one of them thoroughly vacuums then tosses it all in a neon-lit dumpster.

          • Enough is Enough 1.1.1.1.2

            Its not just another party Greg, its Labour's coalition partner and the home of the Deputy Prime Minister.

            It has the potential to affect the government because it involves a govermnent party.

            Helen Clark set the precedent in 2008 as to what should happen in this situation.

            • mickysavage 1.1.1.1.2.1

              Are you demanding that Simon Bridges stands aside as well? Just checking …

              • Sacha

                Would anyone notice?

              • Enough is Enough

                Stand aside from what? He's not in government.

                Him staying as leader is a good thing for everyone who wants a Labour lead government. National should suffer as result of the illegal donations made to them, just as NZ First should.

                My concern is that the stench transfers to Labour due to the fact they are in government with Winston.

                • Incognito

                  He’s Leader of the Opposition and vying for the top job of Prime Minister.

                  • Graeme

                    Na, Leader of the National Party kicking the can down the road as hard as he can and trying to get everyone looking anywhere else than the National Party.

                  • Enough is Enough

                    Yes he is the leader of National. The longer he stays there the better it is for Labour's chance or re-election.

                    • Incognito

                      He should stand down/aside but he should not devil

                    • Enough is Enough

                      The best thing for the government and for National respectiveley would be to have Simon and Winston get sacked.

                      National would benefit from having a new leader that is not associated with the donation scandal in the way that Bridges is. Presumably JLR would not have set up the new leader as he did Bridges. I can only see that scenario being good for that party, but bad for the left as Bridges is a disaster of a leader.

                      Likewise the government would benefit from removing Winston from his position, as it could then rightly hold the moral high ground over this saga. It may bring about a fall of the government but a snap election now would result in a Labour Green government, which is what we all want to happen

              • Climaction

                The question could also be do labour want to risk being tainted by the suspicion that they can only govern thanks to corrupt at worst, unlawful at best, partners?

                [As usual, no response from you, which suggests that you were trolling again. There are other blog sites where they’d welcome you for casting suspicion on both coalition partners of Labour and making up shit about corruption and unlawful behaviour when no single charge has been laid yet. Take two days off – Incognito]

                • Incognito

                  Such loaded language. Nobody has been charged yet, except four people who have absolutely nothing to do with the National Party, never had, and never will 😉

                  Pray tell who are the partners of Labour that are under suspicion and provide information so that we can verify your assertion.

                  • Anne

                    At least our trendy leftie "The Chairman" is no longer around to spread doom and gloom for Jacinda Ardern. 😉

                • Incognito

                  See my Moderation note @ 3:48 PM.

          • Jimmy 1.1.1.1.3

            If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.

        • SPC 1.1.1.2

          No charges, because the system was set up where the donors complied with party directives and undertook all the risk. Yet they are handing the money back – it will be interesting to note whether this helps finance the defence of anyone being charged when court cases begun (and or when we know who those charged are).

        • Adrian 1.1.1.3

          I thought I heard a few weeks ago Bridges say that no-one " currently" in the National party had been charged.

          I may have misheard but if not it is a curious choice of words as it can only mean that Bridges is complicit.

          • Sacha 1.1.1.3.1

            It means someone who used to be in the party. Without naming names you can guess who might fit that description.

    • Robert Guyton 1.2

      National and NZ First have more in common than was previously thought, sharing a single rule-book and all.
      And it’s likely ACT has a copy as well.

      • Anne 1.2.1

        And it’s likely ACT has a copy as well.

        They not only have a copy but they were doing it in the 1990s. I think the threshold was $10,000 in those days and the donors were encouraged to split up their donations into somewhere between $9995 and $9998 lots.

        At least that is what a former ACT leader told me.

        Winston Peters is no angel. Everybody knows it. But I do love the way he is described by honest Bridges and his lackeys as a "crook". What has he done to earn the title crook? Told a few political porkies over the years perhaps but nothing compared to the porkies and the bogus financial machinations National indulged in over many years.

        Anyone remember the bogus trusts of yesteryear? The Waitemata Trust was one of them.

    • peterh 1.3

      And 1 in 10.000 may care about this. so NZ first will lose a handful. and the Nats will lose five handfuls. and then on to the next[ it going to do a lot of damage]

    • Descendant Of Smith 1.4

      Yet when I take a cheque to the bank to bank it the bank will only allow me to put the cheque in a bank account that matches the name the cheque has been made out to.

      So surely then those writing the cheques must have written them out to New Zealand First Foundation – or are their some special rules for some people.

  2. Peter 2

    On RNZ this morning there was the question or suggestion about Winston Peters stepping aside from his roles. I do not recall the same being said or asked of Simon Bridges. Maybe I missed it.

    • infused 2.1

      last I heard, Simon wasn't DP.

      • Muttonbird 2.1.1

        Still a paid servant of the New Zealand public. And purporting to be a Prime Minister in waiting – however unlikely that maybe.

        Bridges should resign immediately for his apparent part in soliciting split donations from Chinese interests, until such time as the trial of the donors is finished and if his name is cleared.

      • Peter 2.1.2

        He is a DP to me.

        D = Dumb. P does not = Prince. Take a guess if you like.

  3. Dennis Frank 3

    Yeah there's an obvious upside to all this: conservative political parties tend to be morally corrupt, and they use political donations to demonstrate this to the public.

    That's the moral of the story. The public are good at being thick, so it all hinges on how long it will take them to get this picture. Desperate attempts to whitewash dirty dealings are inevitably likely in direct proportion to evidence of a public mood of distaste becoming evident.

  4. Robert Guyton 4

    “Will DPF condemn National for hiding the identity of its donors?”

    Nope.

  5. mosa 5

    " But Labour have a close association in coalition with NZ First, and that must cause problems for them, depending on how it is handled. Especially with the history of 2008 "

    This would have been a major factor in Bridges assertion that NZF cant be trusted so therefore like in 2008 the leadership has ruled out coalition discussions with them after September 19th , the timing seems convenient with this announcement.

    How long this enquiry goes is another factor and NZF will want it over quickly. before the build up too the general election.

    Adern and Robertson will be watching this unfold as the PM has said she won't comment on another parties internal business but will extoll the benefits of producing a stable , workable government since 2017.

    It will be in the interests of the government that Winston is cleared but as in 2008 the negative publicity was damaging and played into John Key and his subversives hands nicely.

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/117593877/i-am-the-dark-shadow-of-nz-first–what-party-candidates-claim-winston-peters-lawyer-said

  6. Sacha 6

    Banning all private donations can not come soon enough.

  7. SPC 7

    The positives for the government

    1. National set such a low bar when the "phone called" Simon Bridges remained leader of the Opposition during the investigation that has lead to upcoming court cases and a refunding of the donations. And he is leader up until the election later this year.

    2. the court cases keep that matter concurrent with SFO investigation of NZF donations

    3. The SFO investigation occurred just before the 2008 election, and was concluded with no charges just prior to it. This time the investigation is much earlier in the year and its result (charges or no charges) will be known much earlier.

    4. Responsibility for handling of donations (under the electoral law) is with party officers. So it is at this stage unlikely charges against the deputy PM will occur – but if they do that is the time for him to stand down while the court proceedings are underway.

    5. The other situation different in 2008 was the Select Committee censure of WP . Nothing of that sort in this instance.

  8. Stunned Mullet 8

    Running diversions for Winston – Ye Gods how low can one go in an election year.

  9. Fireblade 9

    Simon says:

    "It's entirely disingenuous and misleading to say that somehow the SFO charges in relation to four people are about the National Party."

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12307585

  10. Dennis Frank 10

    And then there's the evidence: "leaked documents from the NZ First Foundation – via mechanisms including a dumpster and, naturally, a wine box." https://thespinoff.co.nz/politics/10-02-2020/as-sfo-probes-nz-first-donations-ardern-is-visited-by-the-ghost-of-scandals-past/

    Looks like a spook with a keen sense of irony working with another who gets off sorting through rubbish. Doing their patriotic duty or funded in an indirect way via the friend of a loyal Nat?

    "Winston Peters announced he had recommended to the NZ First party president that she “begin preparing a complaint to the police over the massive breach of New Zealand First’s party information”." You mean dumpsters are out of bounds?

    "In 2008, when the Serious Fraud Office set about investigating donations to NZ First, the prime minister stood down her senior minister Winston Peters." Will history repeat itself or is Jacinda made of sterner stuff than Helen?

  11. veutoviper 11

    Today, the PM has made it very clear where she stands on the NZF donations situation and on whether she "trusts" Winston Peters. Re the latter she was unequivocal in stating that she and Winston work in a partnership of mutual trust. On the former she quite rightly distanced herself from the way another party operates.

    Here are a couple of links to her statements

    https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/political/409263/peters-returns-to-parliament-as-foundation-faces-investigation

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12307585

    If you don't want to click the Herald article here is the video courtesy of You Tube which covers her press standup today plus presumably on her way to Caucus or the House plus cameos from several NZF MPs. Her remarks confirming her trust in Peters come in the second half.

    And here is what Winston has had to say on what Ardern said yesterday

    https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2020/02/winston-peters-defends-jacinda-ardern-amid-questions-over-her-trust-in-him.html

  12. Jackel 12

    It is usually conservatives who are most against the public funding of political parties in the name of fairness. So it is they who should have the least to crow about if their opponents appear to breach private donations laws.

    • Chris T 12.1

      Personally for me it is more I don't want my tax money spent to fund groups who think anyone who drives a car is a fascist and rich kids should get free uni, along with the poor ones.

      If some parties aren't as good as others getting private donations they should try harder.

      • Jackel 12.1.1

        So you accept a certain amount of big money corrupting influence over the political process in return for not having to pay for and hear political campaign opinions you find unintelligible. Personally I think that would be one of the better ways for my money to be spent.

  13. David Mac 13

    I'm curious to see the election rabbit Winston pulls out of his hat. Offshore they have to cheat, here, we just can't resist boarding his bus.

    If enough of us can visualise a green/labour majority, we'll get what we ask for.

  14. David Mac 14

    A no Winston labour/green govt would be good for NZ. In a 2nd term 'It's the last guys' fault' moves more to being an excuse than a reason. "Winston has us in handcuffs" removed as an argument. With fewer places to hide, demand to deliver increases.

  15. David Mac 15

    Why on earth would I give thousands of dollars to a political party if I wasn't expecting something in return. I'd have to be out of my mind.

    People in a position to throw $1000's away didn't get into that position by throwing $1000's away.

    Much of a party budget gets spent on buying airtime. With the stroke of a pen, a broadcasting license in NZ could require the gratis donation of advertising time to parties at election time.

    "Hi mate, I understand you're connected to a political party of some sort, I'm not doing anything with this $10,000 and I wondered if you guys could find a use for it?"

    Said nobody ever.

    • mac1 15.1

      David Mac

      Over forty years I've given more than that to one political party. Yes, I wanted something for it.

      Good, honest, and fair government for all. What I get out of that is to live in a good country, a fair society and to be treated honestly.

      In such a place I can make my way, raise a family and be a proud citizen.

      There are also venal, corrupt and self-serving reasons for supporting political parties, buying favours, influence and social agenda.

      • David Mac 15.1.1

        Hi Mac,

        Those on the left generally make the greatest of sacrifices for their political beliefs, our time. Our time is finite, a fossil fuel.

        Money can replenish with a nod from the right trough-face.

        I don't think our future should be chocked up by something as fickle as 'Who has the loosest and fattest pocket.'

        Exhibit #1. The fiasco money has made of American politics, Dennis the Menace was an amusing cartoon, I never picked him for President.

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