More digital billboards have popped up around the capital this week, after the first batch caused confusion online last Monday, the day Eagle announced he was running for the mayoralty. Twitter users questioned their legality as they fell outside the permitted election advertising period.
Wellington City Council spokesperson Richard MacLean said displaying the signs before August 27 went against council policy – but as the signs were on private property, there wasn’t anything the council could do.
Eagle said other candidates had in previous years advertised early without problems, to which MacLean said in this case “we’ve received a lot of heat [from the public] so we feel compelled to act”.
This is an appalling admission. They’re saying they demanded a candidate take down signs that were 100% legal, because people on Twitter complained about them. The job of Council staff and electoral officials is to enforce the rules fairly and impartially, not to smear a candidate because of complaints on Twitter.
Eagle’s campaign spokesperson Georgina Stylianou said on Friday afternoon, the electoral officer contracted by the WCC confirmed to Eagle’s lawyers that there is no legal basis for him, or the WCC, to require the campaign advertising to be taken down.
Angry people on Twitter is not a legal basis. I’m amazed WCC don’t realise this.