Fran O’Sullivan on Len Brown

Fran O’Sullivan writes in the Herald:

If he had any skerrick of honour left, would by now have tendered his resignation as mayor to the people of Auckland.

It is absolutely clear that Brown has obtained multiple private benefits by virtue of his position as Mayor of Auckland.

It’s now time for Auditor-General Lyn Provost to open up a much wider inquiry to satisfy Aucklanders – and New Zealanders at large – just where Brown’s abuse of his position stopped.

Brown is a lame duck and has no chance of getting re-elected. He is just going to take the salary for the next three years.

But the real issue – as I have opined before – is how the Mayor of Auckland obtained special benefits for himself by virtue of his position, especially the $6130 of “freebie” hotel rooms disclosed in the EY report. Then there was the $32,888.50 worth of free hotel upgrades revealed by EY yesterday.

And more: the use of the mayoral car to squire his mistress about town; introductions of her to high-level Chinese visitors as his unpaid “translator”; the undisclosed gifts; the rearranging of his official overseas itinerary to squeeze in a private dinner in China with an unnamed female guest and a mayoral staffer.

As it turns out, she was a personal friend the mayor had requested to provide what proved to be unpaid translation services on the Guangzhou extension of his trip, and the staffer advised EY she had “no recollection of the dinner or attending diner” that was paid for by the council.

These issues have been barely mentioned by other media.

Frankly, accepting nine “freebies” at prime Auckland hotels – three of them at hotels belonging to SkyCity – doesn’t cut it. It is not merely “embarrassing” but is improper behaviour, given the fact that the council has had to adjudicate on controversial issues around the SkyCity Convention Centre “pokies swap” deal where the mayor clearly needed to be seen to be above the play and not putting himself in a position where he could be subject to unconscious bias, or more.

If he was a Minister of the Crown, Labour would have insisted he resign by now.

Brown has clearly flouted Auckland Council disclosure guidelines and general standards. This is symptomatic of a politician who believes he is above the rules. The fact that he was a “no show” at yesterday’s press conference indicates Brown has no answers outside the carefully crafted but ridiculous spin that his bevy of well-paid mayoral office press people have been churning out in recent days to try to deflect attention from the damaging findings in the review.

The TV interviews were so lame, that I wonder what has happened to interviewing skills. Did anyone confront him over his confirmed lies to the media? His communications director said (on the basis of what Brown told him) that he accepted no free hotel rooms when staying with Chuang. ย That was a lie, and has been exposed as such.

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