Friday, February 27, 2015

National is laundering donations

On Wednesday I highlighted a disturbing trend in the 2014 election candidate donation returns, where National Party candidates were almost entirely funded from the party's head office - suggesting that the party was laundering donations to hide the identity of donors to local campaigns. Yesterday, National MP Jono Naylor (who has prior on hiding the identity of donors, then paying them off with big favours) effectively admitted that was the case:

National Party list MP Jono Naylor was the highest spender in Palmerston North - he declared $22,048.97 in expenses and $25,688.34 in donations. Naylor said the money was drawn from donations to the party's Palmerston North branch.

[Emphasis added. The donation from the National Party was his only declared source of funding]

So, to make that clear: people donate to the Palmerston North branch to support National's campaign there. That money is then given to the local candidate. Meaning that the donations aren't party donations, but candidate ones, and the party is acting as a transmitter and should be identifying the contributors.

I'm sure that, like the banks who facilitate tax cheating, the National Party has a lawyer who says its all legal. But its certainly not within the spirit of the law. And if we want to end this sort of scam, we need to lower the party donation disclosure threshold so it is equal to the candidate one: $1,500. That way there's no benefit in this sort of laundering.