Tuesday, November 08, 2011

A bad way to end a political career

DPF reports that Jim Anderton has been referred to police for violating electoral advertising laws over a letter he sent to everyone in his constituents urging them to vote for Labour candidate Megan Woods. Such a letter is clearly an election advertisement, meaning that it can only be promoted by a party secretary, a candidate, a registered promoter, or an unregistered promoter. Anderton isn't any of the first three, and as a person involved in the administration of a party, he's ineligible to be the fourth. Which puts him on the hook for an illegal practice and a fine of $40,000. Not a good way to end your political career.

(I'm assuming Anderton's endorsement was also authorised by Woods. Otherwise he's also on the hook for illegally endorsing a candidate and illegally incurring election expenses. The latter is potentially a corrupt practice, an even worse way to end your political career)

Some could characterise this as a technical offence. Anderton's advertisement would have been perfectly legal if he was running as a candidate, or if he'd had the brains to have it sent by his party rather than himself. But that doesn't wash. A politician as experienced as Anderton has no excuse for being ignorant of electoral law. And he should suffer the full weight of the law as a result.

Meanwhile, DPF also disturbingly reports that the police are refusing to progress any of the cases forwarded to them by the Electoral Commission until after the election, effectively allowing electoral criminals to be advantaged by their crimes. Nice to know that they're taking electoral crime seriously.