The NZ Herald editorial first:
Only Winston Peters knows why he decided to deny receiving a donation from the hapless (and utterly respectable) expatriate benefactor Owen Glenn. As Mr Peters’ admission now reveals, he was in no position to deny it. He may not have been aware of the identity of donors to his legal aid but he was aware that his lawyer has been fundraising for this purpose for many years. That fact alone should have made him more circumspect when asked whether he had received any money from Mr Glenn.
Smart media may want to ask Winston how many times has he met with Owen Glenn, and did he meet with Owen Glenn in Sydney in 2006? And Owen Glenn of course is known as the soul of discretion, so he never mentioned his donation at any of these meetings.
Now he looks very foolish – and worse, in the eyes of many. It was one thing to make a denial without checking all possible sources of his financial support, and flourish a silly sign to news cameras, but Mr Peters did not hear alarm bells even when the Herald discovered an email in which Mr Glenn asked a public relations adviser, “You are saying I should deny giving a donation to NZ First? When I did?”
The logicial response would have been to ask Owen Glenn why he sent that e-mail and what he meant by it. That is the one thing he went out of his way not to do.
A wiser man would have run a quick check on all sources of funds related to his personal political activities and his party. Instead our Foreign Minister descended to baseless and disgraceful allegations of his own – against the integrity of this newspaper, its editor, and our fair-minded political editor, Audrey Young.
Yep. He called Audrey Young a liar, and suggested they had fabricated the e-mail.
“He did not make a donation to the NZ First Party,” he said of Mr Glenn, “he made a donation to a legal action he thought justified”. Later, at his party’s 15th anniversary conference, Mr Peters maintained this desperate distinction. “Not one cent went to NZ First and not one cent went to me,” he insisted. “A donation was made to a legal case which is a massive difference … “
No, it is not. He brought a case against the election spending of the MP who captured his Tauranga seat. The law hears those actions in the name of individuals, not parties. Had the petition succeeded, the beneficiaries would have been Mr Peters, if the seat had been restored to him, and his party, since an electorate gives a party more secure representation in Parliament. Mr Glenn obviously believed he was contributing to NZ First and to all intents and purposes, he was.
I have had a lawyer confirm to me the electoral petition is in the nameof Winston personally, and hence the expenses of that petition are his personal expenses. Winston’s claim this is somehow different to a donation to him is like some sleazy US politician claiming they never took a cent from a major lobbyist – but the lobbyist did buy them a new car, paid off their mortgage and flew their family for a holiday on their private jet.
In a legal sense the money was not a donation to NZ First, but Owen Glenn obviously did not see the difference.
The Press weighs in:
For bellow and bluster as they might, Peters’ admission at the end of the week, after months of denials, that he was in fact the beneficiary of a $100,000 gift from the offshore billionaire Owen Glenn is deeply humiliating. Peters continues to insist that the way the gift was made leaves him entirely blameless. That is a view that not many outside the party will share. …
Peters says he knew nothing about the gift until he was told by his lawyer early this week. This means that all the time Peters was engaging in bullying and offensive abuse of those who were seeking the truth about the matter, he did not engage in the kind of straightforward inquiries that would have revealed it.
And the most obvious inquiry was to ask Owen Glenn what he meant.
The second most obvious inquiry was to ask Brian Henry “Hey Brian you know that $100,000 you got for my legal bills. Was that Owen Glenn?”.