The Four Stooges

September 4th, 2008 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The NZ Herald has a story which reminds me of the Three Stooges, as NZ First officials have given four different reasons for their “administrative error” of not reporting a $50,000 donation in 2005:

  1. Auditor issued a letter saying “the office of New Zealand First made an administrative error
  2. MP , president when the return was filed in April 2006, yesterday said it was Mr Kosoof who “saw it [the donation] and forgot about it”
  3. NZ First’s treasurer at that time, accountant , pointed the problem back to the party, saying he could not give Mr Kosoof the full records as “a lot of the information wasn’t handed over to me as it should have been”
  4. , the treasurer when it was banked, denied Mr Catchpole’s claims that records were missing, saying “he got everything he needed”.

So what excuses will be made for the false 2006 and 2007 returns?

Also continues to show his ignorance of electoral law:

Meanwhile, Mr Peters’ lawyer friend Peter Williams, QC, yesterday revealed that the had received $80,000 from the and that New Zealand First had handed over records to the SFO.

Mr Williams told Radio New Zealand he “presumed” the Vela money had gone to New Zealand First in amounts under $10,000.

The Spencer Trust was formed only in 2005 so the Vela family’s $80,000 is different from the reported $150,000 given to the party between 1999 and 2003.

That will be fascinating if the Velas have given $230,000 in total with no disclosure. Someone joked to me that if one of their horses wins the Auckland Cup, does that mean they have got their donations back!

But Williams is wrong in saying that if the money was paid over by the Spencer Trust in amounts under $10,000 it would not have to be legally disclosed (he said yesterday there had been only one accidential law break). The law requires donations from the same source to be totalled up over the calendar year, and if the Spencer Trust is a separate entity to NZ First then money from the Spencer Trust has to be added together over the year (even if the individual donors to the Spencer Trust were under $10k).

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37 Responses to “The Four Stooges”

  1. NeillR (345 comments) says:

    Ok, let’s assume for one minute that NZ First was just incompetent and made some “administrative errors”. Surely their ongoing inability to comply with the simple requirements of electoral law in this country should mean that they are deregistered as a political party. They have proven time and again that they aren’t fit to run one to the required standard, so that privilege should be taken from them.

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  2. GerryandthePM (328 comments) says:

    Williams has told the Privileges Committee they should not vote on Party lines.

    Will the Labour and NZFirst MPs on the Committee take heed?

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  3. kiwipolemicist (393 comments) says:

    All these excuses remind me of Helen saying that she didn’t notice that her convoy was travelling at 170 kph: she was either stupid or lying, and then she wanted others to carry the blame. You cannot travel at 170 kph on NZ roads without noticing it.

    The truth is hard to find in Petersland.

    http://www.kiwipolemicist.wordpress.com

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  4. Lee C (4,516 comments) says:

    Speaking as a small businessman, we get or tax returns in, we pay our bills, and we meet deadlines. In fact, if we don;t we get stung, and no one is really interested in our excuses. We are grappling with the costs of living on a weekly basis and try to maintain our integrity and provide the best possible customer service we can muster. Or elese we will go under. THen I look at this bunch of corrupt, obscuficating limp dicks year after year with their snouts firmly in the public trough, milking the system for every penny, getting away with and actually condoned by the Prime Minister with her bleating ‘It’s and internal Party affair’ and I have to wonder what the fuck am I doing wrong?

    It is not an ‘internal party affair’. It is a banana republic and a chimp’s tea-party. Who wants a banana?

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  5. m_c (26 comments) says:

    As for the false returns, Dail Jones is claiming that the 2006 nil return is correct

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/4680806a6160.html

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  6. Turlough (18 comments) says:

    Now we come to the “truth” of Helen Clark’s claim that NZ First’s organisation are only a bunch of amateurs who can’t be expected to get their electoral returns right!

    Nick Kosoof is an accountant, and an auditor.

    Dail Jones is a lawyer of long standing, and as a person who first got in to Parliament in 1975, has probably the longest understanding of the requirements of filing returns under the electoral laws, of any MP in New Zealand.

    Brent Catchpole, as NZ First’s treasurer and another former MP to boot, is as stated, an accountant as well.

    Kay Urlich, the former treasurer, was in that position for 12 years, and in addition, as long-time parliamentary Executive Secretary to the previous long-serving NZ First President Doug Woolerton, another MP, and therefore familiar with the requirements of filing retruns for individual MPs as well, is also hardly an amateur.

    In addition of course, Winston Peters, another lawyer, who has been involved in fighting Electoral Petitions since his own one that saw him enter Parliament first in 1979, together with his lawyer Brian Henry with whom he was involved in fighting the Wairarapa Electoral Petition in 1987, and who has been NZ First’s long-standing “Judicial Officer”, are experts on the Electoral Act and its requirements for filing returns. They will tell you so themselves.

    Peters’ brother, Wayne Peters, engaged not just as a trustee for the Spencer Trust, but who has also been involved intimately with NZ First, including at huge expense to the taxpayer for his role in the 1996 negotiations leading to the coalition with National that year, is another lawyer.

    Roger McClay, another long-standing MP who gained entry to Parliament on a hard fought electoral recount in 1981, was until recently yet another close adviser to Peters and NZ First. He too, was very familiar with the requirements of returns filed under the Electoral Act.

    Edwin Perry, recent secretary of NZ First, is yet another former MP and candidate, and therefore hardly unfamiliar with the burdens of Electoral law.

    Peter Williams, Peters’ latest lawyer, and a “QC” to boot, was involved with assisting former MP Gilbert Myles take his place in Parliament under the provisions of the Electoral Act in 1998, when Deborah Morris resigned as an MP, and when Peters tried to stop Myles from re-entering Parliament as next candidate on the NZ First List. Again, not a novice on the law.

    So where are the “amateurs” Helen, and why are you perpetually running interference for this bunch of shysters?

    Besides, hasn’t Helen Clark, in the Electoral Finance Act she and her minions forced through with the support of these people, required every candidate for every party this election to appoint a Financial Agent who is required both to understand a law the Electoral Commission itself can’t understand, and to file returns based on their understanding of that law….on pain of either jail terms or huge fines if they get it wrong? Will Helen Clark, after the election, be excusing all of them because they too are just “amateurs”?

    [DPF: This must be a karma record!]

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  7. virtualmark (1,421 comments) says:

    Turlough, that was outstanding.

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  8. g_ (28 comments) says:

    Could we get CYF to come and take Clark, Peters, Cullen and Wilson away, they all have a compulsive lying disorder which is affecting the future of NZ.

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  9. Neebone (28 comments) says:

    Peter Williams on radio attacked ACT on behalf of Peters, as Peters is presumably paying himshouldn’t that be declared as an election expense? Is it a breach of the EFA? Or perhaps Williams doesn’t tender an account therefore there is no debt and no problem.

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  10. Patrick Starr (3,675 comments) says:

    Peters isn’t paying him Neebone – you are!

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  11. Thomas the Unbeliever (141 comments) says:

    Great analysis by Turlough. That is the sort of rigor I am coming here looking for – rather than the repetive rhetoric clogging most blogs disucssing Peters.

    See the latest Owen letter affirms being at Karaka in 2006 and denies (in its penultimate paragrapgh) being at Karaka in 2007. Doesn’t that directly contradict Peter’s assertion that he was with a group at a table including Glenn in 2007 – which is where the conversation took place. I would have thought it easy to nail whether there was any corroboration for Glenn being at Karaka in 2007. If there is none – then Peters is nailed on this point. If Glenn can be shown to be at Karaka in 2007 – then his credibility is undermined.

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  12. gd (2,286 comments) says:

    Checked the NZICA website Kossof is listed as a CA there is Brendan Catchpole but no Brent. The NZLS online list of thsoe with practising certificates will be up and running in November. Are Jones and Peters still members?

    Suggest complaints should be lodged on the grounds of behaviour in breach of the Rules and the Code of Ethics for those who are members.

    Also suggest complainet against Henry for admitting not following the Rules regarding client billing regards Peters.

    B soles render account to instructing Solicitor not to client.

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  13. rightofleftcentre (75 comments) says:

    Turlough, I gave you a thumbs up but that is a mere token. The best post on this blog I’ve read for a while!

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  14. democracymum (660 comments) says:

    How many people will Winston Peters take down with him?
    The talley is getting bigger by the minute!

    1. Brian Henry (Lawyer)
    2. Wayne Peters (Brother and Trustee of Spencer Trust)
    2. Nick Kosoof (Accountant and Auditor )
    3. Dail Jones (MP)
    4. Brent Catchpole (NZ First’s Treasurer)
    5. Kay Urlich (Former NZ First Treasurer)
    4. Peter Williams (Current Lawyer and Queen’s Counsel)
    5. The entire NZ First Party
    6. Helen Clark (Present PM)

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  15. John Ansell (861 comments) says:

    The problem with our country is not so much that Labour and NZ First are a pack of liars, but that large numbers of people of a socialist disposition are prepared to tolerate or forgive that lying.

    Posts like Turlough’s help to marshall the evidence for the consumption of the honest ones, but that evidence needs to appear in a highly simplified form in the mainstream media where the swinging voters can see it.

    The opposition parties are hamstrung by their relatively modest government-prescribed budgets and the need to present their own positive message from devoting much time to attack ads. So it falls to the media to do the bulk of the simplifying.

    Their messages are typically too sophisticated to really hit home. In this case, though, they’re doing OK (the Herald’s ‘Going, Going, Gone’ being a prime example).

    VP (Victory over Peters) Day shouldn’t be too far away.

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  16. first time caller (384 comments) says:

    What you permit, you promote.

    This sort of behaviour goes the heart of Peter’s financial credibility, and also to the heart of Clarks integrity.

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  17. democracymum (660 comments) says:

    And this just in at Stuff from Mike Moore – former Labour PM…

    “Will the Winston issue peter out? Will the bluff and bullying work again, or has the audience seen through the illusionist tricks he pulled before? The truth is not being told, the people and Parliament lied to – everyone knows this, the contradictions, flip-flops and hypocrisy are clear. Politicians in Britain have resigned in shame for less, and gone to jail in the US. But here’s the thing: even if 94.99 per cent believe this is about rorts, and it’s rotten, and lies have been told, if 5 per cent still vote for Mr Peters, he’s back, and it continues.”

    WHAT DOES THIS DO FOR HELEN’S CREDIBILITY?

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  18. Inventory2 (9,788 comments) says:

    Outstanding Turlough. This needs to be as widely read as possible, so I have devoted a thread to it at Keeping Stock. Thank’s for your sense of public duty!!

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  19. insider (990 comments) says:

    Interesting Glenn explicitly says he gave a donation to NZ First in order to assist Labour. Now who would have told him such a donation would have had a positive benefit for Labour?

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  20. slightlyrighty (2,448 comments) says:

    Further to Turlough’s excellent post, well done there by the way, what do these people think about being referred to by the PM as a bunch of “amatuers”?

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  21. gd (2,286 comments) says:

    insider IMHO this is real guts of the case Was Glen asked to agree to the donation to Peters. If that link can be made then it must surely be that represents an offence under the Crimes Act

    can the legal eagles please comment on this and the evidence that would be needed

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  22. burt (7,085 comments) says:

    The double act….

    Winston Denies, Helen Delays and they both Denigrate.

    …. then they both disintegrate… beudiful!

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  23. pdm (842 comments) says:

    Every now and then an apparent new entrant to the blogging world announces their arrival with an outstanding effort.

    Congratulations Turlough – that effort will take some beating for `post of the month’ if there is such an award.

    Can you get that into the Herald or Dompost as a Letter to the Editor? One of them might then pick up on it and whack it on the front page where it belongs.

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  24. insider (990 comments) says:

    Well GD, we know it wasn’t Mike Williams who suggested Glen, Labour’s largest donor, give money to Peters that would in turn help out Labour, because he has denied it and, as the PM says, he is an honourable gentleman…

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  25. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    Turlough we are all “amatuers” in the eyes of she that is anoited and do not possess sufficient brain cells and are not worthy to ponder such difficult musings. Whats the bet Dear Leader stands at the mirror every morning and the words of that song enter her head, “lord it’s hard to be humble when you are perfect in everyway”, I doubt if she goes futher then that.

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  26. burt (7,085 comments) says:

    Amatuers that are paid like professionals – something is wrong here …

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  27. John Ansell (861 comments) says:

    John Cleese once asked, “What is the point of Belgium?”

    (I thought he got the wrong country, incidentally, since the point of Belgium is clearly chocolate.)

    But in the same Cleesiastic vein, what is the point of Winston Peters?

    From the moment he first appeared on our screens in a National Party TV ad in the 70s conducting the most sycophantic leader interview in television history, it’s been clear that Peters sees himself as the natural heir to Rob Muldoon.

    And what is the point of that?

    What exactly did drinking companions like Mike Moore and Bob Jones see in the guy?

    When Clark and Peters have been expunged from the body politic, Parliament will be a far more boring, but far more constructive place.

    With luck, ideas may get a look in rather than wall to wall scandal.

    Phil Goff will be a relatively sane and honest opposition leader, and the inevitable rejuvenation in Labour’s ranks will hopefully move the centre of NZ public policy further to the right, as it is in the successful countries.

    But for now, time for National to update their 2006 billboard: Paintergate, Doonegate, Speedgate, Pledgegate, Fieldgate, Donorgate, Departure gate.

    Actually the most devastating attack ad might just be a huge billboard of Helen and Winston holding hands. No words needed.

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  28. Lindsay Addie (1,105 comments) says:

    The Electoral Commission are investigating the NZPoodles mob for possible breaches of the Electoral Act.

    Well shoot they will have to think up another half-arsed excuse.

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  29. first time caller (384 comments) says:

    John
    So many times Clark and Peters have been likened to Muldoon. Birds of a feather…

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  30. Bryan Spondre (225 comments) says:

    “Also Peter Williams continues to show his ignorance of electoral law:”

    Yep as Matthew Hooton points out:

    “For example, when Kathryn Ryan correctly said that the $50,000 donation from the Spencer Trust to New Zealand First should have been declared, he incorrectly corrected her and said the issue was the $25,000 from Sir Robert Jones to the Spencer Trust.”

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  31. Inventory2 (9,788 comments) says:

    Turlough – great stuff – I have made it into a post on its own at Keeping Stock, and would urge all kindred bloggers to do likewise. That information should be exposed to as wide an audience as possible.

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  32. PaulL (5,774 comments) says:

    Summary of the Owen Glenn donation situation (doesn’t cover Scampi, Bob Jones, fictitious electoral returns, SFO investigations):

    1. Winston lied about not talking to Owen Glenn at Karaka sales

    2. Winston lied about not knowing about Owen Glenn’s donation

    3. Winston attacked the Herald, accusing them of lying and demanding resignations, knowing that he, in fact, was the one lying.

    4. Owen Glenn was led to believe that donating to NZ First would help Labour. Was that like the Maori party were offered $100K if they formed a coalition with Labour? What would you call that?

    Detail:
    1. Karaka. Owen asserts they talked in 2006. Winston claims to have not been there in 2006 (according to the Herald, no quote available though), and that they met in 2007. There are photos of Winston at Karaka in 2006, and Owen Glenn was not there in 2007. Winston agrees they did talk at Karaka – just disagrees on the year. Conclusion: Winston lied, they met in 2006 at Karaka.

    2. Winston knew. Winston claims to have not known about the donation until August this year. He held up the “no” sign and repeatedly denied having received a donation from Owen. At the time Winston made those denials, he knew about the donation because a) as Owen Glenn’s e-mail shows, Winston personally asked for it, and b) as Helen has told us, she told Winston about it in February. Conclusion: Winston lied, he knew about the donation.

    3. Ran out of editing time. :-(

    4. Speculation. Owen has repeatedly said that he was led to believe that donating to NZ First would help Labour. Who told him that, and how would it benefit Labour? Was it because NZ First wouldn’t form a confidence and supply agreement without the donation? Was it because Labour told him that it would help their cause? Is this process open to a claim of bribery, or is it all above board?

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  33. PhilBest (5,112 comments) says:

    Turlough’s post should get into “TGIF Edition’s” “Best of the Blogs” column. And some of the “old media” needs to pick up on this sort of thing.

    Incidentally, DPF, what is the record for positive Karma? Did Turlough just break it?

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  34. Rex Widerstrom (5,124 comments) says:

    The Spencer Trust was formed only in 2005 so the Vela family’s $80,000 is different from the reported $150,000 given to the party between 1999 and 2003.

    I thought for a moment this was Peter Williams following the Goebbels dictum – repeat a lie often enough and it will become the truth. But no, it’s Patrick Gower – a journalist I admire, I might add – who doesn’t seem to have done his homework.

    The only “evidence” proffered as to the date of inception of this particular murky organisation is the word of Nick Kosoof.

    Now I’m not for a moment suggesting Mr Kosoof is a liar. Rather the answer lies in the words of Brent Catchpole (someone Winston neither liked nor trusted) that he hadn’t been given the information he needed to do his job by Kay Urlich (someone who, because of her close personal association with Doug Woolerton, Winston did trust).

    I suggest that prior to both Woolerton and Urlich jumping ship from their respective party positions (coincidentally, just as questions were being asked for the first time about donations) the shredders were working so hard they made the ones in Ollie North’s office look like slackers.

    Then a bunch of unsuspecting dupes – “cleanskins” the Aussies would call them – like Catchpole and Kosoof were given just enough information so they’d unwittingly file returns that said what those behind this travesty wanted them to say. Which is far removed from the truth.

    Has anyone seen a Trust Deed for the Spencer Trust? What’s the date it was drawn up? Has anyone checked with the Companies Office records? Has anyone asked, say, Henry and Peters to swear to the Privileges Committee that there was no such thing before 2005?

    Till someone does their homework, I’d suggest none of this be taken at face value.

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  35. Turlough (18 comments) says:

    Rex Widerstrom points us in a fruitful direction for further enquiry, the dysfunctional nature of the “management” of NZ First.

    It takes us back to the description by Jane Clifton, I think, of the NZ First Parliamentary Office in Bowen House during the 1996 coalition negotiations, as “Paranoia Palace”. This was when it was said that when someone in the office wanted a thickshake sent up, Bellamy’s was instructed to despatch it, unaccompanied, by express lift to the 19th floor, lest any spy, masquerading as a waiter, gain a whiff of the direction in which Peters was leaning during the 8 weeks of manufactured suspense.

    And it indeed points back further again, to when Michael Cullen had referred to NZ First as “not so much a political party as a personality cult”.

    The reality is that within NZ First the signs have always been that there are those who have the public appearance of being in charge, and then there is the overlapping reality of the closet group around the leader, who are really in charge.

    Hence Rex’s reference to a Party Treasurer, Brent Catchpole, who would not be trusted with the real information needed to do his job, because some of it would be kept in the closet, or farmed out to the leader’s family or cronies to safeguard.

    How else to explain the inadequately explored public veto by a leader who claims he has little to do with the administrative detail re finances, of the claim by the then President, Dail Jones, who surely in a normal organisation would be in a better position to know, that $100,000 had suddenly and inexplicably appeared in the party’s account?

    How else to explain how it could be that a hitherto unheard of trustee of the Spencer Trust can state that that body was set up for no purpose other than to funnel money to the party, while both the Deputy Leader and the Party President can publicly state they have never heard of it?

    But what then to make of Peter’s own claim of just a few weeks ago that he knew nothing of the Spencer Trust or its operations, when within hours of the announcement of the SFO investigation, his new lawyer, Peter Williams, suddenly has copies of all of its accounts?

    It seems to be a case of double-dealing concealed in shadows.

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  36. Ross Miller (1,624 comments) says:

    Oh what a tangled web etc ……………………………

    Turlough … your blood is worth bottling and Winston probably would do it for you in spades.

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  37. Thomas the Unbeliever (141 comments) says:

    DPF – It is expected but unfortunate that most commentary, especially MSM, is not as clear as the comments by Turlough and Rex Widerstrom in this thread. It would be great if all key posts of this nature were linked in some way – or available as a separate thread. I suspect that there are a dozen or so posts that manage to summarise the key points/questions – but they are hiden amongst a lot of dross. The lazy, the misinformed and the technolgically challenged (i.e. unable to run a decent search) need easy access to this stuff!!

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