Guyon Espiner has been breathlessly trying to get up a scandal about NZ First for weeks now, and he produced an expose yesterday that shows that the NZ First Foundation is…wait for it…the same as the National Foundation.

Key documents about a mysterious foundation loaning money to New Zealand First have been leaked to RNZ, detailing why the New Zealand First Foundation was set up, how it would operate and who knew about the idea from the outset.

Oh look, Lester Grey is still handing over stuff to the media. I wonder how he will cope when the details of his extracurricular activities get aired? The complaints to the board about his behaviour are not very becoming for a man who claimed he couldn’t morally continue in his position before exiting stage left. He also might find it hard to explain why he had to buy his wife a new Ford Mustang as it’s quite the topic of speculation around Tauranga.

They show the foundation was set up to seek donors who would be offered a “tiered donation structure with benefits adhering to each tier”.

Same as National’s National Foundation. They have tiered levels too.

The leaked documents show NZ First leader Winston Peters was present at a March 2017 board of directors’ meeting, where the board agreed to the concept of establishing the foundation.

The documents contain a recommendation that Mr Peters “select an appropriate legal adviser” to develop the foundation.

Brian Henry, Mr Peters’ lawyer, later became one of two trustees of the foundation. The other trustee is former NZ First MP Doug Woolerton, who runs his own lobbying firm, offering media strategies, services in “drafting changes for legislation” and “personal introductions” where appropriate.

When the NZ First Foundation came under scrutiny earlier this month, Mr Peters distanced himself from the foundation. Asked by reporters if he could explain what role the NZ First Foundation played, he responded: “I look after the political wing of the NZ First party. That’s an administrative matter and you’ve got to ask somebody else.”

RNZ revealed in mid-November that the Foundation had loaned NZ First money, and that the Foundation was the only named entity that had provided any money – in loans or donations – to the New Zealand First party since 2017.

Actually Guyon Espiner claimed there were three loans but now all of a sudden they don’t mention that. I wonder why? Perhaps it is because he was wrong. I doubt that an apology from him will be forthcoming. It seems he is still keen to create a bit of murk.

Sadly this leak isn’t murky at all…in fact, it reveals what The BFD said weeks ago, that the NZ First Foundation operates precisely the same way as the National Foundation run by the National party.

One of the leaked documents is called ‘Proposal to Establish a Strategic Fund Raising and Management Vehicle for New Zealand First’ and lays out the reasoning for the Foundation.

It says the “generally weak” state of electorates and a “lack of success” at board level in raising funds meant a new business model was needed to bring money into the party.

The precedent is clear. It is the National Party’s National Foundation. In essence this proposal suggests a cloning of that model into the New Zealand First Foundation,” the document says. “There can be little doubt that the model is legally sound and is operated in a manner that meets all legal and ethical obligations.”

The proposal says the fund would be a “legally established autonomous organisation that would operate independently of and at arms length” to the board.

The idea was to set up a capital protected fund. “This means contributions will never be removed from the fund. Instead they will be invested with the proceeds ensuring a stable and diverse revenue stream to support our activities and the capital will continue to benefit our party for the long term.”

Radio NZ

Exactly the same wording as the National Party’s National Foundation. Now we can also see why Winston Peters says he doesn’t know how it runs because the fund was set up specifically to operate autonomously and independently of the board.

Why has Guyon Espiner held this fact back for so long? To quote Van Jones, this story is a big nothing-burger.

Honestly, I still can’t fathom why Guyon Espiner even ran this story, it’s just sad and pathetic.

Simon Bridges and National were all over this story making extravagant claims about corruption and now it looks like it may become somewhat embarrassing for them to keep pushing that barrow. What an own goal!

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