Complaint re Brown’s Trust

The HoS reports:

A private investigator has complained to Auckland Council and the Serious Fraud Office about a trust that was the biggest donor to disgraced Auckland mayor Len Brown’s election campaign.

Grace Haden, who stood unsuccessfully for the council in October on the Transparency New Zealand ticket, asked council chief executive Doug McKay, electoral officer Bruce Thomas and the Serious Fraud Office to investigate the New Auckland Council Trust.

Returns filed earlier this month showed Brown’s successful campaign was funded by $343,375 in donations, with the biggest donor the New Auckland Council Trust, which chipped in $273,375.

The trust, which contributed $499,000 to Brown’s 2010 mayoral campaign, allows donors to keep their identities secret.

Haden said the trust, and others like it, was impossible to investigate because it was not incorporated. “It’s a total sham.” She wants the trust’s legal existence established, and those who set it up and the trustees and beneficiaries identified publicly.

Brown’s campaign spokesman, David Lewis, said it was “fascinating” Haden was complaining only about the New Auckland Council Trust, and not any others. “Trusts … have been used by political parties for years. Len Brown’s campaign abided by the law and it’s a perfectly legal operation for raising money.”

Lewis is correct that trusts were legal for local authority elections – up until 29 June 2013. They have not not been legal for parliamentary elections for many years. Brown knew that trusts would be made illegal (or at least have to reveal their donors) for this election, but got in as much money as possible before the law change. Labour claims it wants transparency in electoral finance yet its most prominent members who is a Mayor does everything possible to avoid the transparency,

I wonder how many of the donors want their money back now?

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