Geddis on donations

The HoS reports:

University of Otago Faculty of Law professor Andrew Geddis said candidates were allowed to meet potential donors and advise them how to give anonymous donations.

“If the candidate subsequently learns a large ‘anonymous’ donation was made to her or his campaign in the days after the conversation, the candidate can claim not to know who it came from,” Geddis said.

I made this point yesterday also. You may know they were going to be a donor, but not which donation was their one. However if the donor was thanked by the candidate afterwards for the donation, that would weaken the claim not to know.

University of Otago lecturer Dr Bryce Edwards said allowing anonymous donations was a serious loophole.

“I think from this point on there will be an increasing call for the ability of anonymous donations to be scrapped.

“It’s almost inevitable we will see that loophole close,” Edwards said.

The sensible thing to do would be to apply the the donation provisions of the Electoral Act to the Local Electoral Act.

It is worth noting that Len Brown also had anonymous donations. His were legally funneled through a trust, so they donated to the trust, and the trust donated to his campaign.

Yesterday, Labour leader David Shearer called for Prime Minister John Key to stand Banks down from his ministerial portfolios.

A spokeswoman for the prime minister said Banks had assured him he had complied with local body electoral law.

Any call for a stand down is ridiculous. While I regard the allegations by DotCom as serious, they are just untested allegations, and they in no way relate to to any actions by Banks as a Minister or MP.

If the Police investigate (which is inevitable), and if they decides to lay charges, then there could be a question of “standing down”, but if MPs and Ministers were required to stand down over untested allegations of electoral breaches then a lot of Labour MPs would still be stood down pending resolution of the complaints the Electoral Commission referred to the Police last election.

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