Monday, June 09, 2014

Prosecute them all

In other Banks news, the weekend saw this from Banks campaign adviser (and former National Party President) Michelle Boag:

Justice Edwin Wylie found Banks guilty of filing a false electoral expense return for his supercity election bid, saying Banks must have been aware that two $25,000 donations which he declared as anonymous had in fact been made by internet businessman Kim Dotcom.

Boag said by long-held convention, local body and national political candidates weren't expected to probe closely the anonymity of donations given to them. However, Wylie's ruling effectively said that Banks "should have probed it".

"That should send a bit of a chill up the spine of every political candidate, because the convention has been that you keep political candidates removed from where the money comes from, to avoid the risk of being seen to be exercising undue influence over their decisions.

"That's been prevalent in the NZ political system for some time. This judgment says that's not good enough: you have to question those supposedly anonymous donations if you suspect you may have received them from someone and it's not on the form."

To which I'd respond that if other politicians have been doing as Banks did and maintaining willful blindness of their donations so as to hide corrupt sources of influence from the public, they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. The only reason to do so - as Banks himself acknowledged with his comment that "if its public I can't help you" - is to permit corruption. And that's simply not something we can tolerate, no matter how widespread it is.

If Boag has evidence that any politician has engaged in this practice, she should take it to the police, or (given that politicians gave themselves a self-serving time-limit on prosecution which effectively functions as a "get out of jail free" card) the media, so that those politicians can be prosecuted and/or driven from political life. If she fails to do so, the natural conclusion is that either she approves of such corruption, or that she is simply blowing smoke in an effort to minimise Banks' guilt.