So, David Cunliffe may have broken the law against election-day advertising by tweeting in support of Poto Williams on the day of the Christchurch by-election. On the face of it, no harm seems to have been done - the tweet was deleted almost immediately - and given past practice from the Electoral Commission I do not think it will result in prosecution. At the same time, Cunliffe's explanation doesn't quite wash:
"I take responsibility for that, the tweet was sent in error and deleted within seconds and it was reported as soon as possible to the returning officer," he said.
It was a draft which he sent unintentionally and deleted immediately before reporting it to his campaign who he said reported it to the returning officer.
He was not aware of the rules at the time it was sent but said no one else pointed out his mistake to him before he deleted it.
So, it was a draft which he sent "unintentionally" - but if it was a draft, then that strongly suggests an intention to send it later, despite clear law that that would be illegal. He claims to have been ignorant of that law, but immediately deleted the tweet and reported it to the campaign - why do that unless you knew it was illegal? Finally, Cunliffe has been an MP for 14 years, and fought 5 election campaigns - and we're supposed to believe he's unaware of one of the most fundamental rules of New Zealand electoral law? I don't think I'm the only one who will be smelling bullshit here.
But even if we do accept his explanation, then Cunliffe has admitted being a total muppet who doesn't learn from his campaigns and cannot be trusted in possession of a social-media account. And that's hardly any better. Either way, he needs to get his shit together.