The large donors

July 10th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

largedons

This tables shows the large (over $30,000) donors to the parties since 2011. It does show quite dramatically where the big money is.

Note the figure for Colin Craig includes a donation in 2012 for around $1.6 million which was effectively for the previous campaign. However as recorded in 2012, I’ve included it.

Very interesting that NZ First claims not to have had a single large donor. They’ve claimed this in the past and it has turned out to be false, so I am naturally suspicious.

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Hide on unions and Labour

July 7th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Rodney Hide writes:

The true donations scandal in New Zealand politics was reported this week without comment. It’s the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union’s $60,000 donation to Labour.

The EPMU is one of the six unions affiliated to Labour. The affiliated unions pay fees and fund the Party through donations. The donations and fees total hundreds of thousands of dollars.

More significantly, union staff campaign for Labour and the unions run parallel campaigns. For example, Labour is campaigning for the “living wage”. In a parallel campaign the Services and Food Workers Union spent more than half a million dollars last year promoting that exact policy.

It would be interesting to add up the total amount spent by unions on political campaigns. It would be well into the millions.

The union funding of Labour totals in the millions. And what does Labour provide in return? In effect the entire party. The unions get to determine the party’s leader. Their say counts for 20 per cent of the vote. That’s the difference between winning and losing by a wide margin.

Affiliation also buys a seat at the table. The affiliated unions have a guaranteed vice-president position on Labour’s all-powerful New Zealand Council.

They also get their people as MPs. The Labour Party enables the unions to parachute members into Parliament. Labour list MP Andrew Little headed the EPMU for 11 years before entering Parliament.

Imagine the outcry if business lobby groups got to vote on the leadership of the national party, could bus people in to their selection meetings, got a vice-president of the party and get a vote on the list ranking.

And the unions get policy, lots of policy. In 1999 the EPMU gave $100,000 to Labour. The following year the Labour Government passed the Employment Relations Act. This act gives the unions incredible power over Kiwi workplaces as well as easy access to workers’ pay packets.

The Employment Relations Act nicely closes the loop. The act was provided by the Labour Party. It gave the unions access to workers’ pockets, and that’s the money the unions now tip into Labour’s coffers.

Indeed, in the state sector it’s policy for Government to give union members a bonus to cover their union fees. You and I pay their union fees.

This is sadly true. Taxpayers bribe people to join the union.

Unions and Labour are guilty of “cash for policy”, “cash to sit at the table”, “cash to decide the leader” and “cash to parachute members into Parliament”.

The rort serves to bolster Labour and entrench the power of union bosses.

Unions are highly politicised organisations that only exist now because of the legal privileges bestowed by Labour governments.

The rorting of our democracy by the unions and Labour would make a great expose.

But don’t expect anything soon: it’s the EPMU that represents journalists in this country.

That’s right, our journalists – through their union – help fund the Labour Party.

To be fair the journalist fees don’t get paid directly to Labour. But they help fund the EPMU overall, which allows them to campaign more for Labour.

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EPMU pays up

July 1st, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union has donated $60,000 to the Labour Party and $15,000 to the Green Party, the union announced this morning.

This is no surprise. They get to vote on the Labour Party Leader, so of course they’ll donate to Labour. Interesting they donate also to the Greens.

Of course this is the small part of their actual effective donation. The most valuable donation they make is staff time. Pretty much all their staff can take as much paid time as they want to campaign for Labour (or Greens or Mana). This adds up to a huge contribution.

Let’s say 70 staff spend half their working week for three months campaigning for Labour. Assume they are paying above the living wage and get $30 an hour. 260 hours is $7,800 per staffer and that is around $550,000 of donated wages. However it doesn’t have to be declared as a donation as it is up to each staffer if they campaign for Labour or not. They just have an employer who will give them as much paid time off as they want to do so.

Personally I think when unions bulk supply staff to campaign for a political party, it should count as both an expense and a donation. There is a difference between someone individually volunteering to campaign for a party in their spare time, and someone being effectively paid by a union to go off and campaign for a party.

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Dong Liu clarifies donations

June 25th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Controversial businessman Donghua Liu has issued a new statement to the Herald confirming “close to” $100,000 in total payments to Labour and its MPs – including anonymous donations – but clarifying that the money was not for one bottle of wine.

Liu, to whom Labour gave permanent residency against official advice, says his earlier signed statement on the wine auction was “capable of two meanings” and after repeated inquiries from the Herald he says he wants to clarify what he spent the $100,000 on.

The signed statement obtained by the Herald on Sunday said that at a 2007 Labour Party fundraiser, he “successfully bid on bottles of wine including one bottle signed by the then Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon Helen Clark, with a contribution of close to $100,000″.

The previous sentence in the signed statement said dinner and a boat trip on the Yangtze River in 2007 with a group including Rick Barker, the Minister for Internal Affairs at the time, which Liu estimated to cost between $50,000 to $60,000.

Okay, this reduces the amount donated to Labour. Paying for Rick Barker to cruise up the Yangtze River is not a donation to Labour. It is a gift to Barker, and if his share of the cost was over $500, he should have declared that in his Register of Pecuniary Interests.

This leaves $40,000 he still claims he donated to Labour, including the $15,000 for the Helen Clark book. The disclosure limit in 2007 was $10,000 – so we still do not know why these were not disclosed.

“Some of these donations were made anonymously which was perfectly legal and so such donations will only ever appear in some individual donation returns as anonymous.”

This suggests that possibly the $40,000 was split up between multiple electorates or candidates.

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Labour failed to declare $150,000 from Liu

June 22nd, 2014 at 7:25 am by David Farrar

The Herald on Sunday reports:

Millionaire businessman Donghua Liu spent more than $150,000 on the previous Labour government, including $100,000 on a bottle of wine signed by former prime minister Helen Clark at a party fundraiser.

So Labour, which was campaigning on financial transparency in 2007, took $150,000 from Mr Liu (after going against official advice to give him residency) and never ever disclosed that he was a donor.  This shows how deeply hypocritical they are, let alone the strong possibility they broke the law with their 2007 donation return.

Millionaire businessman Donghua Liu spent more than $150,000 on the previous Labour government, including $100,000 on a bottle of wine signed by former prime minister Helen Clark at a party fundraiser.

I’ve previously said the Police should investigate. The investigation should not just be under the Electoral Act. There may be theft involved. If Liu was donating to Labour, and Labour say they have no record of the donation, then what happened to the money? Did it go directly to any MPs?

If Labour had a shred of integrity, they would not wait for a Police investigation. They should ask Mr Liu directly who he gave the money to, and in what form was it.

“This is scandalous from the public’s perspective. There has to be some sort of official investigation, whether it’s a police one or a parliamentary one,” said political commentator Bryce Edwards. “There must be some sort of official investigation, whether it’s a police or parliamentary.”

Asked about a potential investigation under electoral finance laws, Liu’s lawyer Todd Simmonds indicated that Liu was comfortable with his financial support and would cooperate with any inquiry.

This is why I believe we should have an Independent Commission against Corruption – a body which can investigate issues like that – even if there are no prosecutions – we need to have someone with the ability to find out what happened.

Liu’s signed statement was dated May 3, two days after Williamson’s resignation. It said:

• Liu paid “close to $100,000″ for wine at a 2007 Labour Party fundraiser;

• That he spent $50-60,000 hosting then-labour minister Rick Barker on a cruise on the Yangtze River in China in 2007; and

This is a huge issue for Rick Barker. He was required by Parliament’s Standing Orders to disclose any gift of over $500 in value.

That Liu visited Barker in Hawke’s Bay in 2006, having dinner with him at an exclusive lodge and then meeting for breakfast the next morning. Liu said he made a donation to Hawke’s Bay Rowing, which Barker was associated with.

Yet Barker claims to barely know him.

Barker previously told the Herald that he could barely remember having dinner.

I like Rick Barker, but he has some serious questions to answers. I presume the Parliamentary Privileges Committee can investigate the adequacy of his pecuniary interests return.

Edwards said while it was not clear if Labour had broken any laws, public confidence in the party had been dented.

He said a private prosecution could be possible, and it was the responsibility of the electoral commission to investigate and to decide whether a referral to police should be made.

They may not be able to prosecute, but they could insist the returns are corrected if necessary (as they did with NZ First).

Edwards said the case highlighted the need for a regulatory body separate from the Electoral Commission “to look at questions of corruption and irregularities” around political donations. Donations made at fundraising auctions or dinners are not recorded individually, but the total amount raised is declared.

That may be correct for Labour, but I’m certain that is not current practice for National. Anyone who donates over the disclosure limit is disclosed.

So what do we now know about Labour and this Liu.

  1. Chris Carter and David Cunliffe wrote letters on his behalf to immigration officials, despite him not being a constituent of either MP
  2. Damien O’Connor granted him residency against official advice
  3. He gave a donation to a club Rick Barker was involved in, and spent $50,000 or so on entertaining Barker in China
  4. He donated $150,000 or so to Labour, yet they have never ever disclosed he was a donor

The entire reason we have disclosure laws is so the media can scrutinise significant donations, and the public can form views on the appropriateness of the donations. Labour’s credibility on issues of electoral finance is now zero.

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Police must investigate Liu donations to Labour

June 21st, 2014 at 11:30 am by David Farrar

John Banks has just been found guilty of signing an incorrect donation return, and there is now evidence that Labour’s 2007 donation return was incomplete.

The Herald reports:

Millionaire businessman Donghua Liu has confirmed for the first time that he donated to the Labour Party.

The 53-year-old has been at the centre of political scandals involving National and Labour for months but yesterday broke his silence to say he had given “equally to Governments of both colours”.

National declared a $22,000 donation in 2012, but Labour found no records of Liu donations after the Herald revealed that he paid $15,000 for a book at an auction fundraiser in 2007.

Unless the donations were under $10,000 (and no one is seriously suggesting that) they had to be declared – either under his name, or bundled up as part of someone else’s donation (a practive illegal today, but allowed in 2007).

However Labour say they have no record at all of any donation. That suggests a serious issue. Who was the money paid to? Was it in cash or cheque? Why was it not passed to Labour Head Office? Where did it end up.

The Police need to investigate and have those questions answered.

But Liu said he would not make any further comments about political donations or swear an affidavit outlining dollar amounts.

He denied allegations from former Labour Party minister Rick Barker that he was “drip feeding” information about his links to Labour.

Mr Barker, who was a guest of Liu at a lavish dinner on a Yangtze River cruise, had challenged the wealthy businessman to go public about allegations of donations to the party.

“It’s important to remember that over the years I’ve given equally to Governments of both colours,” said Liu. “As a private citizen it’s not for me to make declarations about donations and political relationships.”

That’s not good enough, when the donations have not been disclosed. The Police should interview Mr Liu and ask him how much he donated, and who he gave the money to. Then that person or persons need to explain where the money went.

I believe Labour Head Office when they say they have no record of the donation. But it must have gone to someone. Who?

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Proof of a Liu donation to Labour

June 18th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A Labour Cabinet Minister presented a bottle of wine to the partner of businessman Donghua Liu at a fundraiser for the party.

The Herald has obtained a photograph of Rick Barker with Juan Zhang, who has two children with Liu, after he won an auction for the bottle at an Auckland restaurant in June 2007.

It is not known how much Liu paid for the wine – believed to be signed by then-Prime Minister Helen Clark – and Mr Barker said he presented auction prizes several times at Labour fundraisers.

He was the Minister for Internal Affairs at the time, and visited Liu in his hometown of Chongqing in China earlier that year, although he did not know Liu was a donor to Labour.

How can you say you did not know he was a donor, if you presented the bottle of wine to his partner?

Two sources have told the Herald that Liu paid $15,000 at an auction in 2007 for a book signed by Helen Clark.

Labour general secretary Tim Barnett said a check of the party’s records showed no donation from Liu under his name.

However, he said it was possible he made donations at the local electorate level and had not been recorded by the party’s central administration.

That’s no excuse. The party is responsible for its electorates. National asks its electorates to notify it of any donations above the disclosure limits, and I am sure Labour does the same.

The question remains is who banked the $15,000, which account did it go into and why was it not disclosed – or alternatively whose name was it disclosed under.

Mr Barker, now a regional councillor in Hawkes Bay, said he was a guest of Liu at the dinner in Chongqing and visited his cement company while on holiday in China. But he had not known Liu was a Labour donor and he was not in China on official business as a minister.

“I went to China to catch up with some friends of mine, see some sights … and I made a side trip to Chongqing – I had not been to the city before.

So who paid for the side trip? If Liu paid, and the cost was over $500, it should have been declared on the Register of Pecuniary Interests.

Labour leader David Cunliffe said yesterday he had nothing to do with the granting of Liu’s residency which occurred before he became Immigration Minister in 2006.

So Cunliffe is saying nothing at all to do with him.

This brings us back to the bottle of wine, that it is now proven that Liu paid for at a fundraising auction. If he paid more than $10,000 for the bottle of wine, that is a donation that also had to be declared by Labour. So how much did he pay for the bottle of wine? Surely someone in Labour knows. Was it $200? $400? $700? $1,500 or greater?

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Has Labour made false returns like John Banks?

June 17th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour says it has no record of receiving money from the businessman and National Party donor surrounded in controversy.

The Herald yesterday revealed that Donghua Liu – who received citizenship after lobbying from National minister Maurice Williamson – also paid $15,000 at a Labour Party auction in 2007 for a book signed by Helen Clark, the Prime Minister at the time.

Labour leader David Cunliffe yesterday also said Liu may have made another donation through the purchase of a bottle of wine. However, he was only aware of Liu’s potential donations through media reports.

Labour general secretary Tim Barnett said a check of the party’s records showed no donation from Liu under his name.

Well why not? Is Labour denying the donations?

However he said it was possible he made donations via a company or family trust, which was allowed under electoral finance rules at the time, or that donations were made at the local electorate level, details of which were not recorded by the party’s central administration.

The 2007 return doesn’t show any donations from a family trust, and the company donations are large known companies.

If it was made at a local electorate level, then the party is still responsible for disclosure. The head office gets notified of any significant donations.

If it was made to a candidate’s campaign, the the candidate has to disclose, and the threshold back then was $1,000.

Former Labour Government Internal Affairs Minister Rick Barker, who attended a dinner in China as a guest of Liu in 2007, yesterday said it was possible Liu made a donation through the purchase of one of several auctioned bottles of wine.

So how much was the donation, and who was it made to in Labour, and why wasn’t it disclosed?

If it was over $1,000 to a candidate or $10,000 to the party – then they are legally obliged to report the donation.

John Banks has just been found guilty of submitting a false election return.  Labour’s 2007 return looks very suspect unless they can answer the question of who was the donation made to in Labour, and was it declared – and if so, under what name.

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Why did Labour not declare Liu’s donation?

June 16th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A wealthy Auckland businessman, whose links to the National Party led to a minister’s resignation, also made a secret $15,000 donation to the Labour Party – and hosted a Cabinet minister at a lavish dinner in China.

The Labour Party has previously accused the Government of “cash for access” deals with Donghua Liu, who received citizenship after lobbying from National minister Maurice Williamson and whose hotel was later opened by Prime Minister John Key.

But the Herald can reveal Liu, 53, also paid $15,000 at a Labour Party auction in 2007 for a book signed by Helen Clark, the Prime Minister at the time, according to a party source.

The source said Liu also hosted Rick Barker, the then Internal Affairs Minister, at a dinner in his hometown of Chongqing.

Mr Barker, who is now a regional councillor in Hawkes Bay, confirmed he was a guest at the dinner and also visited Liu’s cement company while on holiday in China.

But he said he was not aware Liu was a Labour donor and he was not in China on official business as a minister.

“I went to China to catch up with some friends of mine, see some sights … and I made a side trip to Chongqing – I had not been to the city before.

“I was in the city a short time. Mr Liu showed me his business and that night, I attended a dinner which seemed to be a dinner he had put on for all his staff.”

However, Mr Barker could not remember how he came to be invited to visit Liu in Chongqing.

He said it was “probable” he also had dinner with Liu in New Zealand.

“I am trying to recall events of over seven years ago, so it’s a little challenging. But it can’t have been a regular event, because if it was I would recall that. In fact my contact with Liu fell away quite quickly.”

Political donations made at fundraising auctions or dinners are not recorded individually, but the total amount raised is declared.

That statement is not correct.

If a donation at an auction or dinner is larger than the disclosure threshold it must be declared with the identity of the individual who made it.

The disclosure limit in 2007 was $10,000. Liu donated $15,000 to Labour. The party should have declared him as a donor.

Also the article says the total amount raised at the dinner was declared? Where? In Labour’s 2007 return the only donors listed are:

  • MPs
  • three law firms on behalf of anonymous donors
  • four corporates
  • Chhour Lim Nam for $25,000
  • Steven Wong for $19,000

So was the $15,000 part of the last two?

National declared its donation from Donghua Liu, which is the correct thing to do. The transparency of revealing significant donors allows the scrutiny which has occurred. However once again Labour is exposed as concealing the names of its donors.

Why did they not disclose Liu as a donor in 2007? The threshold was $10,000.

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The Banks trial

May 30th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

John Banks made every effort to keep “politically sensitive” donations to his failed 2010 Auckland mayoralty bid secret, the Crown says, but Banks’ lawyer argues the politician had nothing to gain from that and is a victim of Kim Dotcom-orchestrated lies.

The nothing to gain is a significant aspect to this. Banks was the loser, not the winner, of the campaign. When he filed the return he was not planning a political future. Revealing the Dotcom donation and the Sky City one would not have damaged him in any way.

Mr Jones pointed out inconsistencies in prosecution evidence ? Mrs Dotcom said she was present when donations were discussed, Mr Dotcom said she was not.

Now the pair were separated, Mr Dotcom couldn’t rely on her to support him so took her out of the picture, Mr Jones said.

But Mrs Dotcom went along with the earlier agreed version of events and that “proves the lie”.

And former Dotcom accountant Grant McKavanagh originally said he travelled down to Queenstown and posted the cheques there, when they were actually deposited into Banks’ account at a North Shore Westpac.

When that was pointed out Mr McKavanagh couldn’t explain his “fairytale” evidence, Mr Jones said.

That piece of evidence is bizarre. How could you get wrong a claim that you travelled to Queenstown to post the cheques?

The Crown had failed to put forward a motivation for Banks to falsely declare donations and Mr Dotcom wasn’t even on the public radar in 2010.

Mr Jones said Banks’ campaign was financially transparent.

His team had chosen not to use a secret trust to channel payments, as was allowed, and on one occasion when Banks was handed a cheque, he banked it and informed Mr Hutchison of the situation.

Banks should have done what Len Brown and David Cunliffe did, and set up a secret trust. However he didn’t, and he should have taken more care with his donations return. It isn’t good enough to rely on someone else, when you are the guy who signs it.

Also of interest is the court judgement against TV3. Extracts:

In the present case, I am in no doubt that the footage of Mr Banks broadcast by TV3/Media Works in the 6 o’clock news bulletin on 22 May 2014 was neither fair, nor balanced. It did not respect Mr Banks’ rights. It was gratuitous and tasteless. The justifications advanced by Ms Bradley were, in my view, disingenuous. The footage broadcast did not show Mr Banks’ reaction to the interview being played in court. Rather, it was a sideshow broadcast seemingly to entertain. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that the broadcast was intended to expose Mr Banks to ridicule and/or derision. There was, in my judgment, no news value in the footage at all, and no public interest was served by broadcasting it. In my judgment, TV3/Media Works’ decision to broadcast the footage was irresponsible and it reflects no credit on the organisation.

What makes this worse for TV3 is the decision was not taken by some junior staff member. The decision was made the the general counsel and the deputy head of news and current affairs.

It seems TVNZ may also be in some trouble. They were responsible for the camera and it was meant to be turned off after the first 15 minutes of the day. The Judge has asked TVNZ to also explain why it was left on.

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What is Laila’s stance on capping political donations?

May 29th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

I’m pretty certain Laila Harre has in the past campaigned on capping the amount any one person can donate to a political party. The CTU submitted in 2007 that there should be a maximum cap of $5,000. The Greens have supported a cap. These are her last two employers.

Does she still support a cap of $5,000?

Does she have no problems leading a party that so far has had (at least) $250,000 donated to it by one person?

Amazing how flexible principles are, when you’re receiving the money.

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NZ’s largest donors

May 28th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

An update from the electoral Commission on who the largest donors have been since beginning of 2013, to our political parties.

  1. Colin Craig to Conservatives $725,000
  2. Estate of Brian James Dalley to Labour $430,259
  3. Kim Dotcom to Internet Party $250,000
  4. Phillip Mills to Labour and Greens $124,999
  5. Alan Gibbs to ACT $100,000
  6. Lawrence & Katrina Day to Conservatives $175,000
  7. Dame Jenny Gibbs to ACT $56,000
  8. Xiao Miao Fan to National $53,603
  9. Contue Jinwan Enterprise Group  to National $49,200
  10. Gallagher Group to ACT $45,000
  11. Graeme Douglas to National $42,000
  12. Bruce Plested to National $35,000

I understand that the amount given by Dotcom to the Internet Party is well in excess of $250,000 but expenses paid on their behalf before they were a registered party do not have to be disclosed, which is a loophole in the law.

I have no problem with people donating large amounts to political parties, so long as they are disclosed in a timely manner.

Also this only covers donations to political parties and candidates. It does not cover gifts to MPs, which are done annually in the Register of Pecuniary Interests.

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Latest TV3 exclusive scandal – National is selling access to dead people

May 14th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

3 News reported:

The National Party is facing more accusations of systematic fundraising like it does with its Cabinet Clubs.

This time it’s through a trust called the National Foundation, which targets large donations from deceased estates.

I thought the media reporting on fundraising issues couldn’t get more stupid – but this is definitely a new low.

3 News thinks there is something wrong with a political party doing “systematic” fundraising, and specifically that supporters of National are being asked to leave a bequest in their wills.

I’m sorry, but WHAT THE FUCK?

Do they think dead people are getting access to Ministers in return for donations from their estates?

Or are they worried that dead people are purchasing policies to make heaven a nice place to live?

Should we have a law to stop people donating money to political parties in their wills?

This is the moment where coverage of this issue did not just jump the shark, but the shark ate Fonzie.

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Will this appear on TV3?

May 13th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Liam Hehir writes in the Manawatu Standard:

Are you ready to hear something that will shake your faith in our democracy? Brace yourself.

I can reveal that a network of highly organised corporations have gained influence over one of our political parties. They give this party thousands of dollars – and there is no doubt they get their money’s worth.

For instance, the corporations in question have privileged party connections. As hard as it is to believe, they actually have a direct hand in choosing the party leader. Less directly, a high number of party MPs and organisers used to work for them.

The party regularly proposes legislation that furthers the goals of these corporations.

One of their umbrella organisations was even awarded a government contract that one watchdog group called a “cosy deal” to do “little, if anything”.

Yes, the role and influence of unions over the Labour Party is truly disturbing.

Of course, you probably shouldn’t expect the TV3 news team to express any alarm over this. I also wouldn’t hold my breath while waiting for John Campbell to demand which Labour Party figures met with which union bosses (and what was discussed and what promises were made).

Union bosses that pay enough money to Labour ever get private meetings on a regular basis with MPs to discuss and write policy.

Reasonable disclosure standards should be maintained and adhered to. As long as they are – and there’s no evidence of actual favours being traded for donations – it’s hard to see what there is to get het up about.

After all, it’s reasonable that people who are donating to a cause have an opportunity to talk to the people they are donating to. It’s also reasonable for politicians to talk with the people they hope will back their cause.

So it doesn’t really disturb me to know that organised labour is a powerful force within the Labour Party. I know that the party is supported by, and will support legislation favourable to, the trade union movement. I price that into my decision about voting for it. People make the same calculation about National and the farming and business sectors.

The alternative is for private donations to political parties to be banned altogether and for all political activity to be exclusively financed by the state. This is the preference of the Green Party – and it is hard to escape the feeling that the “revelations” about private donor fundraising are being used as a stalking horse for that cause.

Public financing of political parties should be resisted. When parties don’t depend on voluntary donations – from individuals, business, trade unions and other non-government sectors – they will become a self-perpetuating elite of career politicians. Incumbents will benefit from a system rigged even more in their favour, and grassroots politics will wither.

Our members of Parliament will become less like our delegates to the Government, and more like the Government’s emissaries to us.

And however you feel about the present system, it’s preferable to that.

This is the agenda that must be resisted. Taxpayers being forced to fund political parties. It entrenches the incumbents and means that we end up not donating to the parties we agree with or support – but being forced to fund the parties we detest.

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Sense from The Press

May 12th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Press editorial:

There was something both a little overwrought and naive about the attempt last week to drum up a fuss about the fact that some people had paid large sums to attend functions at which they would have the opportunity to meet and talk to politicians. All political parties put strenuous effort into raising money to keep themselves going and those efforts reach a peak in the period leading up to an election. To try to convert perfectly legitimate fundraising into something more sinister shows a view of the rough trade of politics that is touching but wildly unrealistic.

The ruckus was manufactured out of the publicising of the entirely unsurprising fact that the National Party has been running events which donors pay to attend and socialise with Government ministers. It became even sillier with the reporting of a perfectly ordinary Wellington event organised by a prominent National Party fundraiser that gathered (and properly reported) $45,000 for the party. It was suggested that the fact that Prime Minister John Key was there with his chief of staff somehow turned his presence into an official appearance and amounted to using his office to support the party.

That was probably the most farcical aspect of the Green inspired hysteria (which is designed to get compulsory taxpayer funding of political parties). The PM has two parliamentary offices – the Office of the PM and the Office of the National Party Parliamentary Leader. The chief of staff heads up both, and to say this his attendance at a fundraiser means it is an official appearance is farcical.

This is nonsense. Using high-ranking politicians and ministers as bait at fundraising events is practised by all political parties. As the Prime Minister and others have pointed out, the Labour Party at its last conference in Christchurch offered one-on-one meetings with its MPs for a hefty fee. It is perfectly legitimate and dubbing it “cash for access” and calling it a scam does not make it any less so.

Yet the Greens are silent on Labour selling one on one meetings with MPs. I don’t have a problem with them doing so, but the hypocrisy is massive – they decry MPs attending fundraising breakfasts and lunches – yet say it is fine for their own MPs to be pimped out for one on one meetings in return for a fee.

It is not as though there is anything exclusive in the practice. New Zealand members of Parliament, including ministers, are extraordinarily accessible and open to meeting anyone. Those who pay money to meet politicians are doing so not because the encounter bestows any particular benefit on them but because they are showing support for those of a like-minded political disposition.

Exactly. There isn’t a democracy in the world where politicians don’t attend fundraising functions.

There is, moreover, nothing wrong with ministers having general discussions about political issues at such gatherings. In fact, the more views politicians and ministers hear before they frame policy the better. Even if an individual is able to bend a minister’s ear about some policy or other, the policy must still make it through the meatgrinder of the political process where a thousand other voices are added to the outcome.

“Cash for access” is very far from “cash for favours”, of which New Zealand is blessedly free. New Zealand politicians are undeniably the least corrupt in the world and to suggest scams where none exist is mudslinging for no useful purpose.

The purpose is to get taxpayer funding of political parties, so parties no longer have to worry about relying on their own supporters.

To keep things above board, though, it is important that there is as much openness about what goes on as possible. Some donors to political parties, while willing to part with their cash to support their party of choice, come over all bashful about having their support publicly known. And both major parties unfortunately have been willing to indulge them in their shyness. Parties must declare the gifts they have received, but even after two rewrites of electoral finance law in the last decade it is still possible for an individual to gift up to $15,000 without revealing his or her identity.

I thought the previous limit of $10,000 was about right. Labour incidentally voted for the level to go up to $15,000. But still put that in perspective – $15,000 is less than 1% of the cost of a major party’s election campaign. It may be quite a lot of money to an individual, but it isn’t a lot of money to a major party.

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Yawn

May 9th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Labour, Greens and NZ First’s latest complaints seem to be two fold.

  1. Waa, waa, waa – John Key attends party fundraising events and is very popular
  2. A donor lobbed for a change in immigration policy and failed

Both absolute scandals. Even more hilarious from the party that allows donors (unions) to vote for their leader.

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Key turns the tables

May 8th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Yahoo News reports:

Prime Minister John Key has turned the tables on Labour and the Greens when they attacked him in parliament over National Party fundraising.

They’re claiming it’s a corruption of democracy for the party to charge people a subscription to “cabinet clubs” where they can attend lunches and get-togethers with politicians.

Labour’s Chris Hipkins and Green Party co-leader Russel Norman on Wednesday challenged Mr Key to say it was acceptable.

“Absolutely it is and it’s been going on for a very long time,” Mr Key said.

“I could show you an example of a political party that asked people to pay $1250 to have one-on-one meetings with the MP of their choice.

“And a political party ran an event, they charged $500 and you could go with the leader and pick an MP to discuss any `important issue’.”

The Labour Party ran both those events, Mr Key said, and he went on to offer to table a speech by former deputy prime minister Sir Michael Cullen to a fund-raising dinner.

“If you really want me to stay on my feet I can continue to do so,” he told opposition MPs.

Mr Key also referred to Dr Norman’s much-publicised meeting with internet tycoon Kim Dotcom, saying the MP had “grovelled”.

“I really think that member needs to recognise his high horse went lame when he parked it up at the Dotcom mansion,” Mr Key said.

The hypocrisy of Labour on this issue especially is massive. Labour have a history of actually selling one on one meetings with MPs, and they complain about National selling tickets to breakfast and lunch meetings with MPs.

The real agenda here is Labour and the Greens want their parties to be funded by taxpayers. We should resist this strongly.

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Shock horror – electorates used MPs for fundraisers

May 7th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

3 News reported last night:

3 News can reveal details about a fundraising network used by the National Party to get donations in exchange for access to MPs and ministers.

The Green Party is calling it a secret racket, but because the donations are declared there are no rules broken.

The first rule of Cabinet Club is you do not talk about Cabinet Club. Four National MPs 3 News spoke with said they were not sure what it was.

It’s been many years since I was involved in the party organisation, but to the best of my knowledge there is no central organisation called Cabinet Club. It is a generic term that some use (including me) to refer to electorate level fundraisers where you pay an annual fee for a series of breakfast or lunch meetings with MPs.

Each electorate that has one, designs it themselves. Some may do a monthly breakfast with an MP or Minister speaking. Some may do occassional lunches or dinners. I’m not sure how many, if any, are called Cabinet Clubs. It’s a term that is used internally a bit as a generic term, but I’m not sure how many electorates, if any, use that term.

This is not some new secret fundraiser. Such “clubs” (it’s not a club – it an annual payment for a series of functions) have been absolutely common since at least the 1990s, if not the 1980s. And yes both major parties have electorates that use them.

Supporters pay a fee or donation to the party to attend three or four “informal luncheon/breakfast get-togethers”. They get access to ministers who attend, though the party claims “not in a ministerial capacity”.

It’s not access to ministers. It’s attending a function where they speak and do Q+A. Just like Ministers and MPs do around the country for rotary clubs, chambers of commerce and the like.

We have incredibly accessible Ministers. Most Ministers are doing public functions a couple of times a week. Almost anyone can meet an Minister in their electorate office, if they have one. If you ask to meet a Minister on a portfolio matter, most will make time to meet you. And community organisations and Ministers invite Ministers and MPs all the time to speak to them, meet them etc.

I note no other media seemed to have treated this as a story, as it is basically a non-story. The main people excited by it are Green Party supporters as they don’t want parties to be funded by private donations. They want to pass a law forcing taxpayers to directly fund political parties – which of course entrenches the established parties.

UPDATE: If you want a casr though of selling direct access, I blogged last year on how Labour was selling one on one meetings with its MPs for $1,500. Maybe an inquiring journalist could ask Russel Norman what he thinks of that. National sells tickets to breakfasts and lunches. Labour sells one on one meetings.

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2013 Donation Returns

May 2nd, 2014 at 4:36 pm by David Farrar

The Electoral Commission has published the 2013 annual donation returns from registered parties.

In terms of large (over $15,000 donations) the parties that received them were in order:

  1. Greens $261,807
  2. National $164,603
  3. Conservatives $190,000
  4. ACT $25,000

That is fascinating. The Greens received the most in large donations, and Labour received nothing (in 2013) over $15,000.

In terms of medium sized donations ($1,500 to $15,000) the totals received were:

  1. National $865,900
  2. Labour $478,555
  3. Greens $124,905
  4. ACT $108,895
  5. Maori $73,473
  6. Mana $28,374
  7. Conservatives $6,506
  8. NZ First $2,000

NZ First says they received only one donation above $1,500. Hmmn.

ACT’s large donor was a Lani Hagaman. She and her husband are property investors.

The Conservatives had $90,000 from Colin Craig and $100,000 from Laurence and Katrina Day. Laurence I think is a Director of Quantum Education.

Most of the Green Party donations are from MPs who paid between $15,500 and $20,000 each. Also got $20,000 from a Jane Juneau who is a New Plymouth photographer.

National had five large donors (and 185 medium sized ones). The five large ones were:

  1. Xiao Miao Fan $63,500
  2. Oravida $30,000
  3. Cyril Smith $29,950
  4. Gallagher Group $24,152
  5. Graeme Douglas $17,000

Worth noting that the value of the five large donors is quite modest compared to the medium sized donors. They represent just 15% of total donations over $1,500. Also I’d estimate National receives probably $1 million or so on top of that through membership fess and donations that are under $1,500 individually, so the five large donors are probably just 5% to 8% of total income for National.

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Cunliffe tries to deflect over his secret trust

April 1st, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

On Breakfast on TV1:

DAVID CUNLIFFE:        Absolutely not. In fact there’s a huge difference between what I did, which was to open up a campaign trust that wasn’t even under the Electoral Act, it was an internal party matter, for a trivially small amount of money and said to all of the potential donors through the trustee, you must make yourselves public. The Prime Minister has done none of that. The Prime Minister’s trusts have taken millions of dollars over the last few years and he’s refused to name even a single donor. So I’m afraid the National Party is in absolutely no position to be high minded with me. I have done everything I can to be transparent and frankly, I’ve had about enough of National’s hypocrisy on that matter.

This is a bare faced lie. The Prime Minister, unlike David Cunliffe, does not have any secret trusts for donors.

The National Party used to have trusts for donors to donate through, but they were wound up in 2007 – long before John Key became Prime Minister.

Cunliffe just doesn’t get it. It’s the hypocrisy. He railed against secret trusts and then set one up himself. His party passed a law effectively outlawing the use of such trusts for political parties, and he went and set one up for his leadership contest.

Also the amounts of money are not trivial. The disclosure limit for personal donations and gifts is $500. His secret donors donated ten times the disclosure limit.

And he has not done everything he can to be transparent. He still refuses to name the two remaining secret donors. Rather than face the embarrassment of New Zealanders knowing who his donors are, he refunded the money. That is not transparency.

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Some large donations

March 29th, 2014 at 12:29 pm by David Farrar

The Electoral Commission publishes details of large (over $30,000) donations to parties as they are disclosed. These are the seven large donors since 2012:

Donor Amount Party
Colin Craig  $721,000.00 Conservatives
Brian Dalley (Estate)  $430,259.33 Labour
Laurence & Katrina Day  $100,000.00 Conservatives
Alan Gibbs  $100,000.00 ACT
Xiao Miao Fan  $53,602.65 National
Contue Jinwan Enterprise Group  $49,220.18 National
Graeme Douglas  $42,000.00 National

To put this is context, during the last three months of an election campaign a party that contests all 71 seats can spend up to $4,740,400.  Of that $2,915,700 can be spent on party vote campaign and $1,824,700 on getting electorate candidates elected.

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Geddis on donations

March 10th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Andrew Geddis blogs at Pundit:

There’s been a bit of lefty gloating going on around the traps aboutPatrick Gower’s interview with John Key on The Nation, in which he sought to draw an equivalence between David Cunliffe’s use of a trust to receive donations for his Labour leadership campaign and donations that National received back in 2010 and 2011 through a dinner held at “Auckland’s pricey Parnell restaurant Antoine’s”.

The fact that the Herald, Fairfax and TVNZ have all ignored the story is either evidence that, like Geddis, they think it is bullshit (my term) or a vast media conspiracy. I think the former considering they have all been covering the Collins story in a critical way.

But much as I would love to grab a pitchfork and torch and follow in behind the crowd all the way to the door of Key’s castle on a bleak mountain top (which is what he lives in, right?), my goddam conscience just won’t let me do it. So I’m going to have to break ranks and say, “nice try, but not quite.”

The asserted equivalence seems to be that Cunliffe’s trust lumped together a bunch of money and passed it on to him in ways that did not reveal the individuals who donated it, whilst the “Dinner at Antoine’s” likewise generated a bunch of money from individuals that then got passed on to the National Party without anyone getting to see who really gave it. That’s true enough. But it’s a superficial and misleading similarity.

Because the important difference is the intent in each case. 

This is a point I made around 50 times on Twitter at the weekend. A trust hides the identity of the donors, and that is the intent. A dinner does not hide the identity, nor is it designed to. In fact it increases transparency.

Cunliffe’s use of a trust was deliberately meant to enable individual gifts that otherwise would have to be declared to Parliament’s registrar of pecuniary interests (which has a $500 threshold) to remain “faceless”, in that it permitted only the Trust’s gift to Cunliffe to be declared. It’s the exact same strategem that the National Party used for years with its Waitemata Trust donation laundering vehicle – a practice that Labour criticised heavily at the time and enacted the Electoral Finance Act to stop (amongst other things). Which is why Cunliffe’s decision to adopt the same strategy was so very, very silly.

I’d use another word starting with H!

In comparison, none of the individual donations made at the Dinner at Antoine’s (in the form of a $5000 payment to attend) had to be declared to the Electoral Commission, as the threshold for declaring party donations was at that time $10,000 (its since gone up to $15,000). So there was no necessary reason for the donations to be bundled together  and passed over in one lump sum. It just seemed to happen that way because the owner of Antoine’s got the attendees to first pay him for the dinner, then gave a single cheque to National a few days later, rather than the attendees writing out cheques to National directly. If they had done the latter – which would have been entirely legal – then we would not have had any record of the dinner taking place at all.

That is a useful point.  The individual donors were not disclosed, because their donation was below the disclosure limit. And yes if they had paid National directly for the tickets, then the dinner itself would not be disclosed. National could have structured the dinner in a way that it never appeared on the books at all, yet they didn’t. Quite the opposite to Cunliffe.

(Oh, and in case anyone’s wondering how we know how many places any individual person bought, note that National’s financial return for 2010 states that the donation from Antoine’s was made up of “contributions” … so National must have been told who each of the guests at the dinner were. And had any of these guests paid for more than one place at it, their identity would have had to be disclosed under s.210(1)(b) (as the disclosure threshold stood at that time). So the fact that no-one’s name was disclosed tells us that each attendee paid for only one place.)

Yes, and if any of those people had made other donations to National and over a year it exceeded $15,000 they would have been exposed.

That’s why Cunliffe’s decision to use the Trust actually does feed into the whole “tricky” label that National is trying to pin on him. Itwas a strategem to avoid an outcome he did not want, in a way the Dinner at Antoine’s episode was not.

Indeed. The dinner is not a strategy for avoiding disclosure. It is a strategy for getting people to hand over money to the National Party :-)

The rationale for permitting this is that, in the scheme of fundraising for a political party’s campaign, $5000 is such small change that it doesn’t raise any real concern that you’ll get anything in return for it. Indeed, it’s only once someone gives $15000 in a year that we (now) require the political party tell the world who they are. Anything given below that amount is kept strictly between the donor and the party.

OK. That’s fine. But let’s say that the guest list for the Dinner at Antoine’s got leaked. And let’s say that it turned out six of the places around the table were taken by Chris MollerBruce Carter,Peter CullinaneNigel MorrisonRod McGeoch and Brent Harman. (Note to Chapman Tripp or whomsoever may be asked to look at this paragraph – I am not saying that these individuals were at the dinner, but rather posing a purely hypothetical point for the purpose of academic discussion.) Would it not be of considerable public interest to know of that fact? In particular, would it not be relevant to us that (in the purely hypothetical case discussed) members of SkyCity’s Board of Directors had given National $30,000 between them prior to the last election, so that they could spend an evening in private conversation over dinner with the PM? And then let’s say that each of their wives also had chosen to buy a place at the table in their own names – adding another $30,000 to the pot.

I’m not saying that this was what the Dinner at Antoine’s was all about. It probably wasn’t – more likely it was an amalgam of social climbers and old friends taking the chance to hang out with a guy who is (by all accounts) good company. What I am saying, however, is that because New Zealand has set the legal disclosure level for donations to political parties at such a high level, we may never know if and when such a dinner ever does take place. And that, I think, is a problem.

Andrew supports a lower disclosure limit than $15,000. It used to be $10,000 which I supported but National and Labour voted for it to increase to $15,000 in 2010. But as I pointed out yesterday that is still under 0.5% of a party’s allowable spend during the election year.

In the hypothetical case above, I’d point out that each director and spouse would have to pay for their ticket personally. If one person or company was reimbursing them for the ticket or paying for it, then they have a legal obligation to reveal that.

The other thing worth noting is that a dinner is in fact a transparent fundraising device as everyone there sees who everyone else is. Just send a cheque to a political party, and no one knows but them and you. Turn up to a dinner and everyone else there will see. And I’m sure people would notice an entire board of directors there and their spouses :-)

So a very good post by Andrew on this issue. His hypothetical is just that. As it happens I think $10,000 is a better limit than $15,000 but I put this in the context of a party’s likely total spend in election year being between $3 million and $5 million.

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Donation disclosure thresholds

March 8th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

For the excitable out there, let me explain the three different sorts of donations and the thresholds.

  1. A donation or a gift to an MP personally must be disclosed if over $500. That is because it benefits them personally.
  2. A donation to an electorate candidate over $1,500 must be disclosed. The spending limit during the regulated period is $25,700 so any donation over 5.8% of their spending cap gets disclosed.
  3. A donation to a political party over $15,000 must be disclosed. The spending limit during the regulated period for a party that contests all 71 electorates is $2,915,700 so any donation over 0.5% of their spending cap gets disclosed

The reasons we have disclosure is to guard against purchasing undue influence. Personal donations to an MP directly benefit them, hence the low threshold. A donation of say $5,000 to a political party represents probably around 0.1% of their election year expenditure, so isn’t significant. That is why the threshold is $15,000 (I think a case can be made for it to be $10,000 as it used to be), not $500.

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Will Banks use the Cunliffe defence in court

March 7th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Claire Trevett at NZ Herald writes:

On Tuesday, he buckled and revealed the names of three donors who had agreed to be named. A further two would not be named, and their donations will be returned to them. He said it was a lapse in judgment but done with the noble aims of respecting the donors’ wishes for secrecy and keeping Cunliffe at arm’s length from it all. Cunliffe claimed the latter aim was achieved – he had not known the identity of the donors. He also admitted at least one of them had approached him directly to offer a donation, but claimed he had referred that person on to the trustee, Greg Presland, so had not known for certain whether the donation ended up being made.

By this stage a neon sign with “John Banks” should have flared in his head. If Cunliffe’s 2013 donations were “historical”, what were Banks’ 2010 donations? And Banks, too, had argued his donation from Kim Dotcom was technically anonymous because his campaign manager had dealt with it after he was offered it, so he had not known for certain if it was made.

This is an interesting point. John Banks got rightly savaged for having the initial discussion with Dotcom over a donation, and then saying it was anonymous because he left the details to his campaign manager. This is what Cunliffe is now also claiming, so Banks in court can now get up and say Cunliffe did it also.

The question also arises as to how Cunliffe declared the donations to the Labour Party. Labour and Mr Cunliffe have both refused to say whether he declared the donations to the party individually, or as a lump sum from the trust. Presumably it was the latter, given Cunliffe has claimed not to know who the donors were. If so, it might not strictly be against the Labour Party’s own rules but it certainly isn’t in the spirit of them.

This is a very intriguing issue. The fact Labour will not say whether Cunliffe declared just the trust to them, or the individual donors, makes me very suspicious. I doubt Labour Head Office would have deemed it acceptable not to be told of the individual donors (in confidence).  But if they were told of the individual donors, then it means that Cunliffe has lied in saying he doesn’t know who they all were. The only possible way out from the contradiction is to do a Banks and claim he didn’t read the form his campaign manager signed.

If his disclosure to Labour did just name the trust, then they would confirm that to kill the story. I think they did disclose individual donors, and they are terrified at having to admit this because it would compromise their leader so badly.

Cunliffe is now talking about changing the rules to make the situation clearer. If any rules are to be changed, it should be those of the leadership contest, not the Register of Pecuniary Interests. Labour may be selecting its own leader, but it is also selecting the person who could be Prime Minister. No MP who is effectively auditioning to be Prime Minister should be exempt from disclosing donations simply because it is an “internal process”. If anything, it is a greater reason for disclosure.

Somehow I don’t think it is their own rules they will seek to change. If they get the numbers in Parliament, they’ll change the rules of the Register of Pecuniary Interests to exempt donations to leadership campaigns.

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Cunliffe’s secret trust

March 4th, 2014 at 12:58 pm by David Farrar

Just imagine the howls of outrage from left wing commentators if the successful winner of a National Party leadership race was found out to have used a secret trust for donations from businesses to fund their leadership campaign. Their outrage would be massive. As far as I can see, No Right Turn is the only left commentator to have said anything at all on Cunliffe’s secret trust.

The Herald reports:

David Cunliffe has admitted a trust was used to take donations for his leadership campaign, allowing him to sidestep the obligation to disclose donations in the MPs’ register of financial interests.

So the public will never know who funded his successful leadership campaign. These donations were not to a political party, but effectively to the MP personally to pay for their leadership campaign.

Mr Cunliffe said his campaign team opted to use a trust because the Labour Party’s rules for the contest specified donations would be confidential. “That is a decision we made as a campaign team at the time, pursuant to the rules which meant donors could have an expectation of confidentiality.”

Asked if he was trying to hide something he said “not at all. That has been common practice in New Zealand.”

Neither Grant Robertson or Shane Jones used a trust. And while trusts have been used previously in wider political terms, they have been outlawed for general elections and local body elections (can still be used but donors to the trust must be revealed so donor identities can not be hidden). And the party that has campaigned loudest and strongest for outlawing these trusts – Labour. Cunliffe himself has railed in Parliament against the use of secret trusts, yet here he is defending his own one/

By deadline, Mr Cunliffe had not responded to further written questions about whether he knew the names of donors who had given to the trust, or whether he had included individual donations in his return to the Labour Party under its rules.

That’s a fascinating question. I suspect that Cunliffe does know the donors (especially if family members are trustees of the trust, which is what I have heard) and has revealed them to the party. He is just refusing to reveal them to Parliament despite the requirement in Standing Orders to do so.

What surprises me about this is the political idiocy in using a trust to hide donations. When he decided to run for leader and someone proposed setting up a secret trust to launder the donations through, did none of his advisors think or say “Hey, that may not be a good idea, we could look a bit hypocritical”.

Equally surprising is Labour’s response to this is to focus on the legality, not the politics. The brand damage to Cunliffe from having a secret trust for his donations is considerable. It neuters Labour on any issues of transparency. If I was an advisor to Cunliffe I’d be saying “Why don’t we ask the donors if they are happy to be named”. I imagine most donors would be happy to do so. Shane Jones received donations and he has stated his are included in his Register of Pecuniary Interests.

Getting permission from the donors seems the obvious thing to do, to defuse this. The fact they are refusing to do so, despite the political cost, makes you wonder why. I can only conclude that they believe revealing the identities of the donors would do more political damage than keeping them hidden.

UPDATE: Labour are in full retreat now. Cunliffe now says using the trust was an error in judgement. No shit Sherlock. Why did it take so long to work that out. Two donors are refusing to be named, and their donations are being returned. Named donors include Selwyn Pellett (owner of “independent” Scoop News), Tony Gibbs and Perry Keenan. Keenan appears to be a colleague from Boston Consulting Group now based in Chicago. I presume Tony Gibbs is the company director.

UPDATE2: Just returning the anonymous donations doesn’t avoid the need for transparency. Maybe they’ll just donate the money to Labour now instead. At the end of the day the donations were made in the last calendar year and should be disclosed in his Register of Pecuniary Interests – even if refunded this year. And you have to wonder why those two donors are so desperate not to be named? How embarrassing would it be if their names were disclosed.I can only assume the answer is greatly, if they are being refunded.

UPDATE3:

mickysavage

 

This is hilarious. Attack National for secret trusts (which were wound up in 2007 by the way) and then go and set up a secret trust for your own leader to hide the donations to his leadership campaign. Again, how did no one think this was a bad idea?

The number of “errors” by David Cunliffe is growing. Off memory it includes:

  • The secret trust for donors
  • Getting the details wrong for the baby bonus and a false advertisement
  • Claiming he had  a”middle range existence”
  • Breaking the law by encouraging people to vote Labour on the day of Chch East by-election
  • Including details in his CV that were inaccurate

I leave the last word to Danyl Mclauchlan:

 

Imagine what it would be like if they were running the country!

UPDATE4: Idiot/Savant at no Right Turn quotes Cunliffe:

“I don’t think in hindsight that a trust structure fully represented the values I would like to bring to this leadership. Decisions that were made to set up the trust could have been better. I have learned form that and am now making sure I do whatever I can to ensure transparency.”

Idiot/Savant comments in turn:

Which is just sociopathic “sorry I got caught” bullshit. The thing about values is that you live them, and they’re instinctive. Cunliffe’s aren’t. When faced with a choice between transparency and corruption-enabling secrecy, he chose the latter, and then tried to cling to that choice when it was questioned. These are not the actions of an ethical man who believes in open politics – they are the actions of someone trying to get away with something they know is wrong. 

I’m sorry I got caught!

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