Brown inquiry cost ratepayers $250,000

February 4th, 2014 at 6:50 pm by David Farrar

Simon Wilson at reports:

The cost of the EY report into mayor ’s affair with Bevan Chuang has come in at around $250,000. That’s the word from reliable, well-placed sources close to the council.

It’s an outrageous amount, and the reason it is so high can be traced directly back to the council’s then-CEO, Doug McKay. It was McKay who ordered the inquiry and then allowed it to blossom into an investigation far in excess of what was originally intended.

He earlier stated the inquiry would cost around $75,000. Then in December, he told the council the final figure was not yet known but it would be “over $100,000”. The final figure of a quarter of a million dollars is so far above these estimates, it begs the question: why did he provide such low earlier estimates?

The answer to that is obvious, and I suspect Simon is being spun a line from Len’s office.

Len lawyered up and hired QCs and the like to try and derail the report.  Because Len was refusing to co-operate initially and threatening legal review, the Council was forced to hire a top QC also.

This inquiry would not have been needed if Len kept his private life away from the Council. If his affair had not occurred with a Council board member and contractor, had not used Council resources, had not involved liaisons in Council offices, and not had him getting free hotel rooms for the affair – then there would have been no Council investigation.

If Brown’s affair had been with Mrs Smith-Jones of Papakura and they met in their own time, in private residences or hotel rooms they paid for, then there is no way there would have been a Council inquiry.

Having Metro blame the poor Chief Executive for trying to save the reputation of the Council is obvious spin from Camp Len.

The only question now is how much of the $250,000 cost will Len pay, and how much will be left for ratepayers to pay. I think 50/50 would be equitable.

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47 Responses to “Brown inquiry cost ratepayers $250,000”

  1. tas (625 comments) says:

    What is the breakdown of that $250,000? The article makes it seems as if that’s the amount EY charged, but DPF indicates that it includes the cost of lawyers for both sides.

    It’s a pretty cheap shot trying to pin the blame to McKay.

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  2. kaykaybee (152 comments) says:

    The man is a disgrace and should stand down on the strength of these costs alone. He needs to pay EVERY CENT of all fees accrued for personal spinning and consulting and of course all his own legal ones. Then 50% of the rest of them and it might just pass muster as a minimum.

    Oh and then he needs to resign. Back to the ‘burbs with you Dennis Denuto!

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  3. nickb (3,687 comments) says:

    Making an elected official (by public pressure) pay for an investigation into them is a pretty worrying precedent.

    That said, there is no other public official in NZ that would commit such shameless and unethical acts, yet go on to basically deny all wrongdoing and refuse to resign.

    He has made our entire city a laughing stock. Everyone I talk to still thinks he is a lecherous seedy sad old man even 3 months after then event.

    Plus, he’s bankrupting the city from his pet projects whilst cutting core services.

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  4. edhunter (546 comments) says:

    But Len’s been exonerated, therefore he should pay nothing, after all Auckland needs a Mayor with real vision & love for the city. In fact with we should really cough up another 250k p.a. just for the privilege of having such an awesome leader, after all we must be thankful that Len didn’t quit, then where would Auckland be?

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  5. David Garrett (7,272 comments) says:

    A little off topic…I had a business lunch today with a woman who is in a senior position within the Council heirachy…she says there was considerable interest in why Len was bringing Ms Chuang to various meetings…but also that she is a right femme fatale, and there was no great surprise when it was revealed that Len’s little head was leading the big one…

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  6. Pete George (23,562 comments) says:

    A little further off topic DG, was any interest shown in anyone else being brought to various meetings?

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  7. Joanne (177 comments) says:

    50/50 minimum. The difference between the estimated cost and the actual cost would be good. Even better 100% because LB protests it is a private matter. Good. Pay all the costs Mr Brown.

    Len Brown has form. He had trouble at Manukau City Council re credit cards and now this.

    He goes on and on and on how it’s a private matter between him and his wife. I agree but it becomes a public matter when the ratepayers of Auckland have to pay for it.

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  8. MikeG (425 comments) says:

    Is there any precedent for making someone pay an investigation into themselves? Should Peter Dunne pay for the report that found him the prime suspect?

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  9. Reid (16,454 comments) says:

    it’s a private matter between him and his wife

    Of course it is.

    Same as those hotel rooms he used during the day. Without his wife.

    Same as the cleaning bill and the re-sanctification bill for the Ngati whatever room. Wonder how much koha that took?

    Same as the new couches that no doubt have graced the mayoral suite since the news broke, given who wants to sit on the old ones.

    Add it all up, plus the lawyers:

    http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2013/11/mayor_brown_lawyering_up_at_ratepayers_expense.html

    That’s a lot of berms.

    Should Peter Dunne pay for the report that found him the prime suspect?

    Yes.

    Is there any precedent for making someone pay an investigation into themselves?

    Is there any precedent for a mayor abusing the privileges of his office in the same way(s) Len has, then pretending it’s solely between him and his family and he doesn’t want to talk about it anymore?

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  10. Colville (2,268 comments) says:

    If a true costing of the affair were done including the time wasted by the Mayor and the Mayors staff it would be well over a million dollars.

    2 minute Len must cost the ratepayers $500 a hour to “run” ,with 6 freaking media staff?, probably a lot more than that. How many meetings and hours have been wasted talking over the fallout of this?

    Fuck him. He made his bed now he can pay for the laundry.

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  11. Sofia (857 comments) says:

    The EY report found that Len Brown had not misused his office in relation to his affair with Bevan Chuang.
    But it also reported, in great detail, the habit of the mayor and his family of staying at hotels in the city. These hotel stays had nothing to do with Brown’s affair with Chuang, yet there was a public interest in telling us about them, because we learned the mayor has received favours (in the form of free rooms) from Sky City. We now know he cannot usefully contribute to the debate about Sky City’s plans to build a convention centre. He was wrong to accept those rooms, and it is very surprising his judgment was so poor he did not understand that.
    http://metromag.co.nz/editors-blog/a-quarter-million-dollar-scandal/

    Apparently Brown has a conflict of interest regarding Sky City and the accommodation accepted from them, but the other hotel rooms [to avoid a short driven trip home] were booked by Brown’s wife and the upgrades were to her bookings.

    What do the rules say about the Mayor’s wife obtaining advantage, since Brown himself was not involved directly?

    It’s never been clear why McKay ordered the inquiry from EY, formerly Ernst & Young. The more common procedure for investigating financial activity by a government body or individual is to ask the Auditor General to step in … But his decision not to go to the Auditor-General was unfortunate. As for the fact that under his watch the inquiry turned into an exercise costing ratepayers a quarter of a million dollars – that’s appalling.

    What should Doug McKay pay?

    However, Brown’s campaigning on being a good Christian Family Man as he presented himself particularly to South Auckland voters, only to be found out to be a dissolute pre-occupied adulterer, is electoral fraud and he should stand down or an independent body conduct a representative poll to see if a new election is warranted, to see if Auckland stands by Brown as he claims.

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  12. vibenna (305 comments) says:

    I’m no supporter of Len Brown, but trying to force somebody to pay the costs of an investigation against them is simply odious. It is an assault on democracy. It reminds of the scene in “Brazil”, when somebody is being tortured, and the friendly Guard leans in and says “Don’t hold out too long son, it could seriously affect your credit rating.”

    I suppose that does give choice. Is it totalitarian, or simply Pythonesque ?

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  13. Colville (2,268 comments) says:

    Should Peter Dunne pay for the report that found him the prime suspect?

    Yes.

    Nofuckingway. Prove it or fuckoff.

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  14. Nostalgia-NZ (5,203 comments) says:

    Why should he pay? Even though I think he should resign, I can’t see generally how he is responsible for costs of an inquiry into himself which he didn’t order, particularly so as the inquiry found no ‘wrong’ doing. As an aside, at a meeting he recently attended he said that his relationship with his wife was a private matter which is true of course but he has used the ‘privacy’ of his marriage to sell himself to the electorate as a good man and husband something on which a fair amount of people must have based their votes for him upon. He acted fraudulently, presenting himself to the public knowing full well that it was a false presentation, he was told that at a recent meeting and even with his immense self admiration, at least part of him must realise that it’s true. Unfortunately for rate-payers, that ‘part’ is unable to overtake his ‘vision’ of himself.

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  15. Colville (2,268 comments) says:

    Oh..

    To be clear WRT Browns Wife…. I have thought all along that she is a knowing willing participant in all this.

    She is as guilty as He.

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  16. Reid (16,454 comments) says:

    Ah so the leftards think they’ve found a chink and attack forthwith in their usual mental way.

    Newsflash leftards:

    Len is the one who caused the cost in the first place. Just like Dunne. Without their respective philandering there would not have been an issue. If Len had had the decency to step aside, perhaps there would not have been a call for these philanderers to make redress. But he didn’t, so there is. Not only that but by prevaricating and lawyering up Len deliberately increased the cost, so he’s doubly guilty.

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  17. Nostalgia-NZ (5,203 comments) says:

    True Sofia.

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  18. Samuel Smith (276 comments) says:

    Send the bill to that fella Whale Oil.

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  19. bhudson (4,740 comments) says:

    I wonder if Auckland ratepayers might like to see the itemised bill? I’m sure they might like some certainty that the Council (read, ratepayers) aren’t paying for Len’s lawyers as well.

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  20. JeffW (326 comments) says:

    Sam Smith, shooting the messenger, just a tad aren’t you?

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  21. Nostalgia-NZ (5,203 comments) says:

    I’d say ratepayers are paying the bill for Len’s lawyers on the basis that it was an inquiry into this conduct as Mayor.

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  22. Nostalgia-NZ (5,203 comments) says:

    If Bill Clinton could say that he didn’t have sex with that woman, I guess Len figures that it only took a couple of minutes.

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  23. bhudson (4,740 comments) says:

    I’d say ratepayers are paying the bill for Len’s lawyers on the basis that it was an inquiry into this conduct as Mayor.

    So the taxpayers should pay John Banks’ lawyer as well then N-NZ?

    And Philip Fields?

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  24. burt (8,269 comments) says:

    So that’s about 13,500 hours of the living wage. He’s cost the rate payers about 6 full time living wage salaries for the inquiry alone. How many living wage equivalents ( henceforth know as ‘LWE (© burt)’ ) are his spin doctors chewing up between them each year?

    RESIGN LEN – YOU ARE A DISGRACE

    Not because you shagged around, tons of people do that all the time, but because you sold yourself as a solid family man with Christian values. You also failed to declare a whole pile of stuff that you know you should have – what were you hiding by not declaring all those free rooms and upgrades – You integrity is questionable and your credibility is shot – RESIGN !

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  25. MH (754 comments) says:

    So it’s back to mowing our own lawns again? Len should have stuck to his own lawn. Anyone for a Brazilian…someone wax him one.

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  26. dime (9,972 comments) says:

    so whats that? all the rates from a quiet little street somewhere?

    what an arrogant prick.

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  27. Nostalgia-NZ (5,203 comments) says:

    No bhudson, one was in office when his conduct came under question, the other was yet to be elected. However, if there was a inquiry on behalf of ratepayers regarding how Brown presented himself to the public before the last election, or an action by ratepayers in the district Court alleging that Brown’s conduct was tantamount to an electoral ‘irregularity’ he would have to foot his own bill whether either action went his way or not.

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  28. bhudson (4,740 comments) says:

    N-NZ,

    Ah, so it’s different because Len did it…

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  29. MH (754 comments) says:

    and Chuang was under labour as well.

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  30. Nostalgia-NZ (5,203 comments) says:

    ‘N-NZ,

    Ah, so it’s different because Len did it…’

    Did what? Didn’t disclose funding? You must be reading papers from Mars.

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  31. Samuel Smith (276 comments) says:

    All I’m saying is that Whale created this mess, so why shouldn’t he pay for it?

    Oh, that’s right, he’s never to blame and has no money in any case.

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  32. Ross12 (1,425 comments) says:

    Samuel –You have to be joking to say Whaleoil created the mess. Cam Slater reported it like any other journalist could have. Brown created the situation –end of story.

    For Brown to get away with anything less than 100%, would be a rip off to the rate payers of Auckland.

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  33. Colville (2,268 comments) says:

    Nosty @ 9.47
    No he didn’t disclose any funding. He ran it all thru a trust!

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  34. Nostalgia-NZ (5,203 comments) says:

    Yes Colville. That’s not what the accusation against Brown was however.

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  35. burt (8,269 comments) says:

    Samuel Smith.

    Brilliant Labour party DDD policy. You’ve got the Deny going well with Len saying the freebies were inconsequential to his decisions as Mayor, the Delay has been going fine with the inquiry and the hiding. Now the Denigrate of the accusers. Brilliant execution, you’re a legend.

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  36. Colville (2,268 comments) says:

    So what was the point of your 9.47?

    I know… It was just you flapping your jaws….

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  37. Nostalgia-NZ (5,203 comments) says:

    I was pointing out the difference between the allegations laid against Banks in Court, compared to those of the internal inquiry by the Council. Being that the allegations against Banks are that he didn’t declare donations according to the Law, compared to Brown being ‘investigated’ over things post his election. You’ll get it one day. I still argue that Brown deceived the voters, and doesn’t have the mandate he claims. I guess you think he does.

    I

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  38. Sadu (129 comments) says:

    I don’t know about making someone pay for an inquiry into themself.

    Normally the boss would pay for the inquiry, and when the wrongdoing was found the employee gets sacked.

    In this case it’s fucked up because the wrongdoing is clear, yet he can’t be sacked (elected representative, different rules).

    But the point now is that he’s blowing off official duties and gearing his staff to playing down his personal affairs instead of working on roads, libraries, keeping rates down – important shit like that. If he was your employee, how many weeks would you put up with him not doing what he’s paid to do? Plus being forced to blow $250k on an enquiry?

    Yeah, life at the trough is a bit different to the real world.

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  39. deadrightkev (468 comments) says:

    Brown should not have to pay a cent toward an enquiry. He should have to pay with his job for clearly abusing his post and ratepayer resources.

    Its time to stop distorting values and principles through bolt on fixes to remedy a problem. It might feel good to charge him for something but that process should be a clear demarcation and council funded or things get murky.

    He should be accountable to the council governance as a board and be capable of being voted off if he breaches ethics.

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  40. igm (1,413 comments) says:

    Where was this reported in print, radio, or Tv? The whole left-wing media seem to be championing this lecherous, dishonest, evil person. Come on Aucklanders, make his life miserable with insults, protests, or whatever it takes to unseat the swollen nosed philandering apology for a person.

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  41. igm (1,413 comments) says:

    S Smith: You are the most pathetic example of a left-wing bludger on this post. It is easy to see why your type lives a life leeching, as you have nothing constructive to offer anyone, just continuous envy.

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  42. OneTrack (3,095 comments) says:

    What’s the problem? More ratepayers money where that came from. Ay Len?

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  43. OneTrack (3,095 comments) says:

    Ross12 – of course its whales fault. the other news media all got the memo from “head office” to suppress the story, like they are doing now with the costs. Whale ignored the memo. no wonder the hard left like ss are grumpy.

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  44. anticorruptionnz (215 comments) says:

    There actually was no legal basis for the report The code of conduct sets out a clear procedure which was not followed.

    the code of conduct locatable here http://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/SiteCollectionDocuments/aboutcouncil/governingbody/codeofconductelectedmembers.pdf
    states “The governing body shall constitute a Conduct Review Independent Panel.” so where and when does the CEO trump his employers and obtain a report from EY which is not signed and does not identify the investigators or any real persons involved in making it.

    accountability zero evidential value zero price tag outrageous.

    Ey have a vested interest in protecting the Mayor they are part of the committee for Auckland and EY has traditionally pushed PPPs.

    How about Doug Mc Kay ( who was also a member of the committee for Auckland ) paying for a report which was outside his scope as CEO to commission and how about a proper independent investigation as set down by the code of conduct .

    If they can make up rules to apply to us ( e,g berms ) then the least they can do is stick to the rules which set down the conduct for elected members. the rule is there for a reason.

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  45. Nick R (507 comments) says:

    Len Brown didn’t order the report so there is no basis in law for demanding that he should pay for it. It’s not like a Court process where the loser pays costs.

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  46. Brian of Mt Wgtn (22 comments) says:

    You can’t tell me that Brown and McKay conspired to get EY to do the report rather than the Auditor General because I read where between the 2 of them they sorted out the ” Terms of Reference “. If that is not a conspiracy then I don’t know what is. That idiot McKay was good at spending our money without any care or financial prudence or just incompetent because of what he initially said about the cost of the EY report and offering to underwrite any budget blowout of this stupid Replica of a state house monument in the CBD. He was leaving and didn’t give a toss about ratepayers it was all just about looking after his mate Brown.
    I wonder what the outcome would’ve been if it had been a full enquiry run by the Auditor General not the council contracted company. I mean’t to add before edit that Brown should pay most of the bill because he caused the problem and it would have been a lot cheaper if it had been done right in the first place by the AG.

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  47. anticorruptionnz (215 comments) says:

    Sure the auditor general would have been good except for the fact that she has acknowledged that she has shares in sky city so she is not impartial either . If Len brown keeps his job her shares go up in value .

    perhaps sticking to the rule book would be the answer by getting the governing body of council put together an INDEPENDENT panel to conduct the inquiry

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