Hamish Rutherford at Stuff reports:
Parliament’s Speaker is refusing to disclose whether a New Zealand First employee has travelled at the expense of the taxpayer, after the MP he lives with, Denis O’Rourke, denied the two are partners.
Yesterday Parliamentary Service confirmed it was investigating a complaint into O’Rourke, who entered Parliament in 2011, and Stephen James, an out of Parliament staff member for the NZ First transport spokesman.
Under the directions of the Speaker, David Carter, MPs are not allowed to employ their partner, husband or wife. O’Rourke has denied that James is his partner, reportedly saying that the two live in different parts of a single house.
Electoral records from 2011 showed O’Rourke and James living at the same address. Although the latest electoral roll shows James now lives at a different address, property records show it also relates to O’Rourke’s Christchurch home.
The two were previously directors of the same company, and companies they continue to run give similar contact details.
So they live together, and run business together, and O’Rourke has out him on the taxpayer funded payroll. It’s not a great look.
James is said to frequently travel from Christchurch to Wellington during weeks when Parliament is sitting. It is unclear whether he travels at his own expense, and a spokeswoman for Carter said the Speaker would be making no comment on the matter until Parliamentary Service had completed its investigation, expected next week.
It is rare for Out of Parliament staff to come to Wellington. Most OOP staff would probably come to Wellington just once a year or so. James has been seen out and about in Wellington, often with
MPs are allowed to have their partner or spouse travel with them, or if they do not have one, nominate a family member, under the directions of the Speaker.
Staff members can also travel via funding from the MPs parliamentary budget.
The Herald also has a new angle:
New Zealand First MP Denis O’Rourke is under further pressure after being caught out over a fake testimonial on the Trade Me page of his classic car rental business. …
However, the complaint from Queenstown resident David Simpson which sparked the investigation said there was “a clear case of Mr O’Rourke and Mr James conspiring to create bogus testimonials about a wedding car hire firm they both have an interest in”.
The pair were directors of Christchurch-based wedding business Garden City Weddings.
After the business ceased trading, Mr O’Rourke continued to lease classic cars for weddings, including a 1948 Jaguar Mark V named Winston.
Under his Trade Me handle DJSteve, Mr James wrote: “Such beautiful black cars – thanks for your great service for our wedding.”
Mr O’Rourke replied: “Denis: Many thanks Steve. it was our pleasure.”
The post was placed three months before Mr O’Rourke was elected to Parliament in 2011 and has since been deleted.
Mr O’Rourke said he knew Mr James had placed the reference but, because it was done before he was an MP, he did not need to apologise to the public.
Yep fake testimonial from your business partner are fine so long as you did them before you were an MP!