Electorate Campaign Returns

Claire Trevett at NZ Herald reports:

Donations towards MPs’ election campaigns came from diverse sources, ranging from artists to fisheries companies and Australian unions and some disclosed donations well in excess of the $25,000 spending limit.

This is  because the $25,000 spending limit only covers advertising expenses, and also is for the last three months only. The total cost of an electorate campaign is usually in excess of this.

In the three months before an election, candidates can spend up to $25,000. However, there are no limits on spending on election material before that.

And again only certain types of expenditure counts towards the limit.

Labour MP Andrew Little’s disclosure of $29,975 in donations included $2500 from Crafar Farms receiver Michael Stiassny, who is a partner at KordaMentha and chairman of the board of Vector. Mr Little said he first met Mr Stiassny when the pair worked on the collapse of Ansett. They had stayed in touch ever since and were “good mates”.

A former EPMU secretary, Mr Little also disclosed two $1500 donations from Australian unions, including the coal miners’ union which he said had been supportive over the Pike River disaster. The maximum donation allowed from overseas donors is $1500. Todd Energy also gave $5000 to Mr Little and his National Party rival in New Plymouth, Jonathan Young.

That is interesting that Andrew and Stiassny are mates. I don’t know Mr Stiassny, but from  various accounts he is not the most popular person in the country – to be fair that sort of goes with being a receiver.

Also interesting the $3,000 from foreign unions to try and help Andrew win New Plymouth.

The returns showed Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye spent almost twice as much as her main rival, Labour’s Jacinda Ardern, on the battle for the seat – but Ms Ardern raked in the big donations. Ms Kaye spent $21,347 on her campaign in the Auckland Central seat while Ms Ardern spent just $11,365.

This is spending attributed to the candidate. It is worth noting That Labour  also spent around $10,500 in advertising in Auckland Central on top of that $11,365 and National spent around $3,000. Generally how it works is that most advertisement ask for both the party and the electorate vote so you can split the cost 50/50 if you want. Labour split most of their ads 50/50 while National did not (as they did not want the electorates spending too much of the party vote budget.

However, Ms Ardern declared $27,295 of donations for her campaign – including artworks for a fundraiser from artists John Reynolds, Greer Twiss and Karl Maughan, worth a combined total of $10,750. Ms Kaye got just $5525 in donations – most of it from National’s central office.

Again some context is needed here. These are not the total level of donations for each candidate. They are merely the total level of donations above the disclosure limit of $1,500. If a candidate received 30 donations of $1,000 each, none of that would be disclosed. One can not know from the returns, how much money a campaign received.

Also a minor correction. National’s head office does not donate money to electorate campaigns – in fact it is very much the other way around – electorates “donate” considerably to the central campaign. The error would be based on the fact that the address used in the return was the Wellington head office address – but that is because electorates are part of the overall party, and that is the official office address. However almost certainly any donation from the party to a candidate is from the local electorate.

All candidate donations of more than $1500 must be disclosed. The return of donations to political parties is yet to be released. All party donations of more than $15,000 must be disclosed and parties will now also have to disclose the number of donations they received in bands of between $1500 and $5000 and $5000 to $15000.

The party returns will be interesting. Any donation over $30,000 has already been disclosed, but we will get to see the donors between $15,000 and $30,000 plus see the overall level of donations in bands.

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