Local body donations

April 27th, 2012 at 1:09 pm by David Farrar

The NZ Herald reports:

Labour MP Trevor Mallard has lodged an official complaint about Act leader failing to disclose a $15,000 donation was from SkyCity during his 2010 Auckland mayoralty campaign.

Mr Mallard lodged the complaint with the Auckland Council electoral officer this week. He also asked the electoral officer to scrutinise “anonymous” donations of radio advertising Mr Banks had included in his return.

SkyCity gave $15,000 each to Len Brown, now mayor, and Mr Banks, his rival, during that campaign.

Although Mr Brown’s donation return listed SkyCity as a donor, Mr Banks’ listed an anonymous donation of $15,000. It did not mention SkyCity.

The penalty for knowingly filing a false return is up to two years in prison or a fine of up to $10,000.

There is a lesser penalty of a $5000 fine if the candidate did not know it was false. MPs convicted of crimes with a penalty of two years or more can not remain in Parliament.

However, Mr Banks said he was not concerned about the complaint, dismissing it as Mr Mallard “up to his old timeless tricks”.

He said he had not known at the time that the donation was from SkyCity and his donations return was accurate as at the date he signed it.

“I signed the document at the said time to the best of my knowledge.” …

Asked how it was that Mayor Brown had known about the SkyCity donation yet he had not, the Act leader said his campaign accountants had dealt with the finances for his campaign and he had based his return on the information they gave him.

Asked if it was possible they had known the donation was from SkyCity, he said it was.

Auckland Council’s electoral officer, Bruce Thomas, said he would consider the complaint and decide whether to refer it to police.

It has been referred to the Police, but that in itself is not of significance. Local electoral officers are basically required to refer every complaint to the Police. The WCC referred to the Police a complaint from a Councillor that I had linked to his official profile without his permission! Yes, seriously.

Anyway let us look at what the 2001 says. You need to be aware that it is very different to the Electoral Act, which is much much tighter in terms of donation disclosure.

anonymous, in relation to an electoral donation (as defined in section 104), means a donation that is made in such a way that the candidate concerned does not know who made the donation

So the Act says it is only the candidate who needs to now know the identity. Again this is different from the Electoral Act.

electoral donation, in relation to a candidate at an election, means a donation (whether of money or the equivalent of money or of goods or services or of a combination of those things) of a sum or value of more than $1,000 (such amount being inclusive of any goods and services tax and of a series of donations made by or on behalf of any one person that aggregate more than $1,000) made to the candidate, or to any person on the candidate’s behalf, for use by or on behalf of the candidate in the campaign for his or her election

So a donation of $15,000 definitely qualified.

S109(1) states:

Within 55 days after the day on which the successful candidates at any election are declared to be elected, every candidate at the election must transmit to the electoral officer a return setting out—

  • (a)the candidate’s electoral expenses; and

  • (b)the name and address of each person who made an electoral donation to the candidate and the amount of each electoral donation; and

  • (c)if an electoral donation of money or of the equivalent of money is made to the candidate anonymously and the amount of that donation exceeds $1,000,—

    • (i)the amount of that donation; and

    • (ii)the fact that it has been received anonymously.

So if the candidate knows who made the donation, then they must supply a name and address, while if they do not, just the amount and the fact it was anonymous.

So the test for the Police is simply did John Banks know Sky City donated $15,000 to his campaign. Unless there is proof that he did know (a meeting, e-mails etc), then I can’t see the complaint has any chance of succeeding.

Personally I think the Local Electoral Act should be updated to have similar transparency requirements to the Electoral Act. This would mean:

  • to a candidate could not exceed $1,500
  • a donation is anonymous where a candidate “could not, in the circumstances, reasonably be expected to know the identity of the donor”

But that is not the current law for local government donations. So I see a very small possibility of the Police taking action.

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29 Responses to “Local body donations”

  1. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    How did Len Brown know about the 15K donation to him?

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  2. bhudson (4,736 comments) says:

    Ross69,

    Perhaps he was told?

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  3. dime (9,799 comments) says:

    Mallard v banks lol that’s not really a contest.

    The balls on this idiot

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  4. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    In December 2010, it was reported that Brown and Banks had been given 15K by SkyCity. Banks was possibly asleep at the time.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10693936

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  5. Psycho Milt (2,404 comments) says:

    What the Police do with it is irrelevant – Banks has been featured in news tying him to dodgy campaign donations and egregious hypocrisy, so Mallard’s work is done. It was a good hit.

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  6. dime (9,799 comments) says:

    How excited are ya right now Ross? This could be the biggest thing ever lmao

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  7. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,875 comments) says:

    PM @2:01

    Some hit. That’s like dropping a spent .303 bullet onto the after deck of the Bismark from a range of two miles.

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  8. bhudson (4,736 comments) says:

    Ross69,

    Nice try, but the articlel you linked to was published at least 54 days after the official results were declared (they were to be declared between 14th – 20th October.)

    Given the requirement for candidates to have submitted their returns within a 55 day period of the official result, the article would have been published after Banks had smiled his return.

    So you have proven what exactly?

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  9. bhudson (4,736 comments) says:

    *filed

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  10. backster (2,140 comments) says:

    The Police are still busy sorting out the Labour activist Indian with all those false voter registrations from the same election.

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  11. BeaB (2,104 comments) says:

    And we are paying Trevor for this crap.

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  12. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    > the article would have been published after Banks had smiled (sic) his return.

    Depends when he filed his return. Of course any honest non-corrupt politician realising they’d made an unintentional error might have decided to amend their return. Banks has apparently known for a considerable period of time who the donor was.

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  13. bhudson (4,736 comments) says:

    Ross69,

    What part of within 55 days do you not grasp. The return would have been submitted prior to Monday 13 Dec. It is quite possibly that it was submitted a week or more earlier as the 55 day window was from the date of the official declaration (which could have been as early as 14 Oct.)

    What is the provision to amend the return? There is none indicated. If Banks found out after the return was filed it was too late.
    You’ll have to find some real evidence.

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  14. david (2,571 comments) says:

    Trev is desperately trying to distract attention from the sleight of hand knifing that he is orchestrating within the LP Caucus. Expectythe media to be chasing their tails allover the landscape in the next week or so chasing non-stories while the Labour Party tears itself to bits and performs a sort of Seppuku on itself. Of course those being cast by the wayside will try not to spill their guts in public and most definitely won’t be volunteers but there is no doubt that Trev has been sharpening and polishing the blades.

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  15. smttc (730 comments) says:

    So let’s get this straight. When he signed and filed his return, Banks didn’t know that the anonymous donor of $15,000 was Sky City because either Sky City directed Banks’ campaign accountants not to tell him or his campaign accountants decided not to tell Banks who the donor was. Hmmmm.

    And he wasn’t the least bit curious either? And in fact he only found out who the donor was when Sky City went public to the Herald to deflect the criticism of Len Brown for accepting a similar donation? hmmmm.

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  16. Colville (2,248 comments) says:

    As I read the rules you would be a mug if you asked who was giving the money. Dont ask and dont ever get told and you cant be in the wrong as long as you have declared all of it. it not as tho he was gonna turn down $15K when Red Len had it also.

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  17. smttc (730 comments) says:

    Colville, if he knew Red Len had it also then he knew who the donor was.

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  18. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    Seriouslywho cares where money for elections comes from, as long as its not the public purse.

    I don’t care if the unions give labour millions I don’t care if business give National millions, Mana can hold as many batons up’s as they want.

    Look at the time that will be wasted on this shit.

    And has anyone noticed those rorting MP bastards have had a month away from Parliament WTF do list bludgers do?????

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  19. bhudson (4,736 comments) says:

    smtcc,

    I don’t think there is any indication that Banks would have known about the donation to Brown prior to the Herald article on 13 Dec. Which was after both of them had filed their returns

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  20. RRM (9,770 comments) says:

    Ah yes, the dishonesty, the do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do, the common law-breaking, the nods and handshakes between old boys, the hypocrisy, the lying, cheating, and endemic corruption of the right.

    Just another day in paradise. :-) Nothing to see here, move along, move along…

    [At least we are consistent, and we are all just equally as lackadaisical in the comments threads whenever someone on the left looks dodgy, eh? Oh wait:
    http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2011/07/sure_we_believe_you.html
    Oh wait:
    http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2010/12/lens_500000_secret_trust.html ]

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  21. publicwatchdog (2,516 comments) says:

    Seems that the ‘TEFLON JOHNS are coming unstuck?

    First ‘dodgy’ John Banks – then ‘shonky’ John Key?

    How on earth is John Key going to be able to defend John Banks after his Campbell Live performance?

    In mean – how can poor Banksie be fit for Ministerial duties with such chronic amnesia?

    FYI

    Emailed received from Detective Inspector Mark Benefield, Field Crime Manager Auckland City District

    “This email is to formally acknowledge your complaint under the Local Electoral Act 2001(LEA) in respect to the 2010 Mayoral Election and allegation of a false return made by the now Hon John BANKS in respect of his returns under section 109 LEA.

    For future reference File 120427/9334 refers.

    At this point in time I will be your point of contact.

    Regards

    Detective Inspector Mark Benefield
    Field Crime Manager Auckland City District ”

    ____________________________________________________________________________________________

    Penny Bright
    ‘Anti-corruption campaigner’

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  22. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    Will be interesting to see if Banks can wriggle out of the Kim Dotcom one though – this appears to have been deliberately orchestrated to appear anonymous:

    Act leader John Banks asked for a $50,000 political donation to be split into two parts so it could be made anonymously, says Kim Dotcom and one other witness.

    Dotcom said the request was made on April 15, 2010, when Mr Banks was preparing to campaign for the Auckland mayoralty.

    He said there were at times three other people in the room while the donation was discussed – and Mr Banks rang later to thank him for it.

    The allegation comes after police were asked to investigate Mr Banks’ listing of a $15,000 donation from SkyCity as “anonymous”.

    Political candidates are required by law to declare donations if they know who made them. Failure to do so is punishable by up to two years’ imprisonment and up to a $10,000 fine.

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  23. swan (659 comments) says:

    Yes I think with the Kim Dotcom donation, Banks is looking shaky. 2 witnesses. Ha, good on Dotcom. Remember any politicians coming to his defense when the NZ police were behaving like they were stars in a Hollywood movie? Nah, neither do I.

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  24. Mark (1,471 comments) says:

    If the Dot Com accusation is true Banks is quite possibly gone.

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  25. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    With the balance of power so finely tuned, are we now in for a replay of Clark protecting Peters and Gillard hanging on to her pair of miscreants?

    It’s looking like a long two and a half years for our coalition of born to rule pricks, the sanctimonious prat, the crooked bully and the indigenous colonialist collaborators!

    And we think Shearer’s got problems?

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  26. bhudson (4,736 comments) says:

    It’s looking like a long two and a half years for our coalition of born to rule pricks, the sanctimonious prat, the crooked bully and the indigenous colonialist collaborators!

    But Luc, you seem to be describing the Labour Party, David Cunliffe, Winston Peters and the Mana Party there. It will indeed be a long two and a half years before they can mess up another campaign opportunity

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  27. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    @Luc Hansen 10:27 am

    The difference in this case is that Banks could be convicted of a criminal offence that would automatically remove him from Parliament.

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  28. bhudson (4,736 comments) says:

    Oh toad. How could I have missed Russel Norman as Luc’s sanctimonious prat

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  29. thepenismightier (2 comments) says:

    Bit wrong there sorry David:

    “So the test for the Police is simply did John Banks know Sky City donated $15,000 to his campaign. Unless there is proof that he did know (a meeting, e-mails etc), then I can’t see the complaint has any chance of succeeding.”

    This is a reversed burden:

    134False return

    (1)Every candidate commits an offence who transmits a return of electoral expenses knowing that it is false in any material particular, and is liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years or to a fine not exceeding $10,000.

    (2)Every candidate commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $5,000 who transmits a return of electoral expenses that is false in any material particular unless the candidate proves—

    (a)that he or she had no intention to mis-state or conceal the facts; and

    (b)that he or she took all reasonable steps to ensure that the information was accurate.

    Therefore, if anyone is going to be proving anything it will be John Banks. Gotta love reversed burdens!

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