Friday, November 24, 2006

The shitstorm begins

Now that the injunction has been lifted, journalists are frantically speed-reading their hastily acquired copies of The Hollow Men to uncover the juicy bits. Scoop's "Sludge Report" has already noticed the smoking gun email, sent by the Brethren's campaign manager to both Brash and Key in May 2005 (several months before Brash said he had discussions with the Brethren) and requesting a further meeting to discuss their pamphlet campaign:

Good afternoon Don and John,

Doug Watt and myself enjoyed your presentation this morning at the Millennium Hotel. However as backers of the recent "Wake Up NZ" campaign ($350,000) and as responsible for a very extensive election campaign ($1,000,000) with the sole goal of "Getting Party Votes for National" a meeting following on from our one last week with Steven Joyce is important.

It goes on to talk about the aims of the campaign and concludes with a statement that the author is "essentially working on our/your election campaign full time" (scan [JPEG]).

The Herald expands on the subject here. It seems that national discussed the use of outside groups on defence and education at a campaign strategy meeting as early as February 2005 - and that the pamphlets were discussed with and shown to MPs in June. So much for pleading ignorance.

There's an obvious issue here that this is a far higher degree of collusion than admitted to, and one which means that the Brethren's expenditure should have been both authorised by and attributed to the National Party. Instead, National used a third-party essentially to circumvent its Electoral Act spending limit - something for which they should have been prosecuted for had this information come to light earlier. As with Labour's overspending, it is now too late to prosecute, but we can take steps to stop this from happening again. Allowing parties to circumvent spending limits in this way essentially allows the rich to buy elections - something we should not allow to happen in this country.


The key crime here seems to be dishonesty to the electorate. My understanding, from previous media discussions, is that the Bretheren plans were changed to avoid breaking the law. I certainly don't remember the Bretheren trying to build trust in Don Brash.

I am happy to be proved wrong based on the evidence. However, I would appreciate a legal analysis of what went on, rather than a simplistic witch hunt.

Posted by Anonymous : 11/24/2006 01:46:00 PM

This is for all those who got bored with the Brethren story.

Kiwi_Donkey, I don't know where to start.

A good point might be Don Brash saying that the rules governing election spending were "crystal clear". Well, he should know. Looks like he and his friends studies them very hard to find out how to circumvent them.

Anonynous Donors (which include Blind Trusts) *must* be anonymous. Clearly they were not.

If a third party spends money to get the vote out on your behalf their money *must* be counted in your returns. If *you* knew about their intentions there is an obligation on you to do the counting. Deliberate breaches of the act are treated far more seriously unintentional ones.

Finally, if you are going to spend the 12 months following an election questioning its integrity you had better be dam sure that you are not on shaky ground. Don Brash's attempts to discredit the voters' intentions has far wider implications for our democracy which relies on our confidence in the processes for its success. This is not something to be toyed with lightly for short term political game.

Finally, on the witch hunt thing, I think that is a fucking cheak given the witch hunting that has gone on by National, the Brethrens (PIs) and Ian Wishart recently.

Angry, disgusted, you bet ya.

Posted by Anonymous : 11/24/2006 02:41:00 PM

well said noddy - Savant - what is your reading of the book?

Posted by Bomber : 11/24/2006 02:43:00 PM


Interesting on the Blind Trusts. Don't know the law there, although I expect it is widely breached if what you say is right. Certainly, nobody would expect anonymous donations to be from random totally unconnected groups. Still, you may have a point, although from what I gather the evidence is circumstantial rather than definitive. Haven't got the book yet.

On third party spend - I think this only applies to the Green pamphlets. And those are not a black and white case, in my opinion.

On questioning integrity. I completely agree.

On fucking cheek. Well, Brash has resigned. Damien "Taito" O'Connor, Heather "Pledge Card" Simpson and David Benson "I did not stuff a tennis ball in that student's mouth" Pope are all still there, as is, Philip "Money Talks" Field. So let's just have a consistent standard, eh?

Posted by Anonymous : 11/24/2006 02:57:00 PM

What you have here is evidence of very shocking actions, indeed.

The email clearly shows that a couple of Exclusive Brethren members were at a breakfast function attended by 300 other people, at which Don Brash and John Key were present. That should be a shock to us all. It clearly undermines democracy to think that the Exclusive Brethren can eat breakfast with non-members of their church.

The email also clearly demonstrates that the Exclusive Brethren sent an email. I am mortified that they use this technology.

The email further shows that some members of the church don't like the Labour Party, and that they wanted to help to get rid of it. I think we should pass laws making it illegal to work against the Labour Government.

The email shows that the Brethren planned a pro-Brash campaign. It is utterly disgraceful that the Brethren subsequently changed tack, and actually created an anti-Green campaign instead.

Clearly the socialists, including Labour Cabinet Ministers and Labour officials had no involvement in union-organised anti-National campaigns that swallowed up vast amounts of union funding during the election. We know that there was no discussion between Government and Unions with regards to the unions' active campaign, because that oh-so-balanced chappie, Nicky Hager, hasn't published a book about union-Labour Party collusion in anti-National campaigns.

Posted by Insolent Prick : 11/24/2006 03:00:00 PM

Right on the button, Noddy. Given that National,and their pals (Ian Wishart, Michael Bassett etc.) have been so keen to paint Labour as "corrupt", you'd never ever think that Brash, Key, Joyce etc. knew all about a cool $4 million (from what we know so far) in secret and illegal private payments for the 2005 Election.

I can't think of a bigger scam in NZ history.

Posted by Anonymous : 11/24/2006 03:01:00 PM

Bomber: sadly, I don't have a copy yet. Someone in Wellington is working on getting me one ASAP, but I understand Whitcoulls is trying to monopolise distribution (or something).

Kiwi_Donkey: There's a summary of the law here. National seems to have knowingly falsified its returns, and committed a corrupt electoral practice. Again, though, it is too late to prosecute.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 11/24/2006 03:07:00 PM

Spin away, IP, spin away. This is far bigger than petty right left politics. I noticed your disgust with Wishart the other day and appreciated that.

I also remember you claiming once that blind trusts were not that anonymous and then retracting once it was pointed out that the law was very clear that they *had* to be.

I think if you want cleaner politics and an electable National party (which by the way, I think would be agood thing) then you need to show some appreciation as to what has been going on here since Brash bullied his way into national three years ago.

Posted by Anonymous : 11/24/2006 03:10:00 PM

Sorry to burst your bubble, there can be no emails from the Exclusive Brethern. Ever.

They will not use computers because there is some obscure verse in the Bible which they've interpreted as meaning using faxes, computers or televisions will condemn them to hell.

Posted by Michael : 11/24/2006 04:07:00 PM

Michael, you might like to check this out in light of your comments.

Posted by Anonymous : 11/24/2006 04:19:00 PM

Michael. Not only do they now use computers for work, they have an internet site and they now try and inluence who should be in government. All that stuff used to be left to the Lord to sort out but they seem to have left the true way.

Posted by Anonymous : 11/24/2006 04:24:00 PM

I don't think that is quite right I/S. You can't prohibit knowing or socialising with people who make anonymous donations. Also, they are as entitled to make policy recommendations as anybody else.

As long as the candidates and party officials don't know the specific details of a donation it can be anonymous. Even then, if it is donated to a trust, and the trust makes a donation to the party, you may still be in the clear.

I believe Labour follows this practice too.

You might not like it, but is seem to be within the law.

And how about that Nicky Hager, going on about secret influence and bias in commentators, when he was busy leaking against National in the last election! I mean for fuck's sake, that degree of self-righteous hypocrisy shows a very strange mind at work.

Posted by Anonymous : 11/24/2006 04:39:00 PM

Anon/Noddy - You've obviously not heard of the word 'sub-contract'. They're happy to pay others to use computers, but not do it themselves.

(I've worked with a firm that was owned by the EB.)

Posted by Michael : 11/24/2006 04:44:00 PM

Apologies Michael, I see now that this was all Tuatara Flooring's doing ;)

Posted by Anonymous : 11/24/2006 04:56:00 PM

National is looking more and more like the second biggest cheater in last years election.
not very good at all....

Posted by Genius : 11/24/2006 06:52:00 PM

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator. Posted by Michael : 11/24/2006 08:44:00 PM

Chapter 1 shows that "Honest" Don is the most Blatant Liar of recent history. Now that (more correctly) "Devious" Don has been exposed as the hypocrite and morally bankrupt cheat that he is; a vote of thanks should be made to the courageous few, who had the gumption to forward the correspondence on to someone who could be relied on to deal with it, in an appropriate manner!
I trust that Keys will also heed the message - but I doubt it! The fact is the front bench of National is the epitome of "Hollow Men". Full of self-importance and hubris, and completely lacking in anything approximating moral conscience. I can see the Tui's ad now! " No I do not know anything about that email I did not open it!" - Yeah right! Well John if you didn't know anything about it, and you didn't open it - you should have! Because every one else around you sure did! Even the so-called minions! Some were so disturbed about it they chose to make it public! So don't do a Don and deny it all - you were in there boots and all!
What makes the whole thing even more scurrilous though, is the persistent sanctimonious refrain from the National benches about a corrupt government! Surely Don never listened to the sermons of his Dad - I'm sure there would have been more than one or two on the judgement of others - Judge not lest you yourself be judged! Before you remove the speck of dust from your neighbor's eye - remove the plank from your own! All good stuff and well worth remembering!

Posted by Anonymous : 11/24/2006 08:46:00 PM

"National used a third-party essentially to circumvent its Electoral Act spending limit - something for which they should have been prosecuted for had this information come to light earlier."


Posted by Michael : 11/24/2006 08:47:00 PM

If you think he is the biggest you’re pretty naive. I'm not sure he deserves to be called 'honest don' but he's a pretty sub par liar. If you want the biggest liar pick someone good at it. John key is probably much better, Cullen is probably even better again.

> a vote of thanks should be made to the courageous few

I agree with you here. I'm happy to get some good scandals into the public. Pity labour has much less leaks. it means they could in theory behave much worse and get away with it.

Just imagine if National was in government and they had some cover-up (for example a chemical effect). What are the odds they would be unable to keep it secret and keep causing harm? Now what if labour was in charge?

It seems a little strange we spend so much time talking as if we WANT someone who is good at screwing us.

Posted by Genius : 11/24/2006 09:39:00 PM

Brash - the man is the sum of his past. He lied to his first wife, he lied to his second wife and he lied to New Zealand.

Despite the way many New Zealanders want to perceive Brash he has a now extensive documented history of being dishonest in his significant relationships.

Posted by Anonymous : 11/24/2006 11:50:00 PM

God, you guys? make me laugh.

The EB met with the bloody Electoral Commission and they, the organisation that monitors election spending, cleared the bloody spending!

Get over yourselves.

Posted by Gooner : 11/25/2006 02:43:00 PM

Gooner - the issue is not the Exclusive Brethrens involvement in the campaign, it's the fact that Brash lied about their involvement consistently - even up to last week.

A comparison is often made to the support the Unions enjoy from the Labour party, but this is a false analogy as Clark has never denied the Unions support her party, while Brash has frequently and demonstrably lied about the Brethren.

Posted by danyl : 11/25/2006 06:08:00 PM

Danyl, well if that is the only issue I would tend to agree that things look bad. I still fail to see why, at the very outset of their involvement, they didn't just get tough and admit they had help from them and say, 'so what'?

Lies tend to lead to lies about the lies which gets you into trouble.

Posted by Gooner : 11/25/2006 07:17:00 PM