Andrew Geddis discussed National party dirty donations scandal on Radio NZ:
An electoral law expert says the National Party can’t entirely wash its hand of the fraud charges laid against Jami-Lee Ross.
Ross used to be a National Party MP but is now independent.
He’s named as one of four people facing charges in relation to two $100,000 donations to the National Party.
The three other defendants are Yikun Zhang, Shi-jia Zheng, and Hengjia Zheng.
The charges relate to separate donations made in June 2017 and June 2018.
National never thought that the charged parties would ever let their suppression lapse, and would fight to keep it. They went all in on NZ First’s donations saga and then the unthinkable happened, name suppression was removed.
The Chinese donors know full well who organised the donations. Hell, they were busily getting drunk with Simon Bridges at the time. Bridges even promised them he would hold a dinner at his house and he told Jami-Lee Ross he would make sure Ross was invited. He did want them to bring the wine though because they had better quality wine than he does. You’d only know that if you drank regularly with them. The donors aren’t best pleased with Bridges’ lying over the matter and so it is likely that in order to escape serious consequences they are going to line up all the people who were at the dinners to provide evidence.
Bridges for his part may well find himself ordered by subpoena to give evidence, or on charges himself when the SFO starts getting to the bottom of things. The Chinese donors aren’t going to take the fall for Bridges. So there is the very real possibility that Bridges will find himself in court, either as leader of the opposition, or in the unlikely event that he wins the election, as Prime Minister. I’d say there is a better than even possibility of him being called and cross-examined, and all the evidence that comes out at trial will sink his political career without a trace. The small man will become a footnote in political history.
Caucus will soon start to realise that blame for all of the current troubles besetting the party can be laid fair and square at the feet of Paula Bennett. It is no secret that this week she has been busily undermining Bridges, so much so that caucus knows he has to go. However, her role in this mess cannot be understated. It was Paula Bennett who pulled back the bed covers, it was her strategy to involve staff, MPs and candidates in her scheme, and it was her idea to sit in and supervise the interviews, in her own office, with Melanie Reid. All that was put into action before that ill-fated mediation meeting that Bridges attended with Jami-Lee Ross and his advisor. They had a choice at that meeting: to send Ross to the backbench for a time or to do what they did. They must regret not taking the offer before them, or the open warning that to go down the rinsing track would detonate a nuclear bomb.
They decided they could weather the fallout, but in any case, they’d already pulled the trigger by lining up the Newsroom story.
Caucus members are nervous now that the evil of Paula Bennett has been revealed. They worry that they’ll be next. Whilst they consider Bridges to be inept, he’s not evil. The same cannot be said of Bennett. The chickens are coming home to roost, and as anyone who has ever owned chickens knows, they always crap under their perch.
This is National’s problem and one likely to generate a mass of evidence that won’t put any of the leadership in a good light. In fact, people will quickly learn that their chosen party has been dirty for a very long time.
That isn’t to say that Labour is clean either; they aren’t. These donors have courted Labour politicians in precisely the same way. But their donations are not yet subject to criminal proceedings.
National can’t simply give back the money now it looks tainted. They’ve spent it anyway, we know this because they are blagging contributions from electorates. In any case their claims that paying it back absolves them is akin to a thief declaring the stolen white goods in his garage were just resting there when the Police turned up, and they always intended to return them. The coppers and the courts wouldn’t accept that and they won’t accept it from National either.
National’s caucus has gotten itself into quite a bind. It’s going to be up to them to sort it, but you can’t say they weren’t warned. National supporters can deny the obvious all they like but if it smells like duck poo and there are duck footprints in the poo and they can hear quacking you can be rest assured that it is, in fact, a duck…or in this case, the stench of corruption.
As one former MP famously declared in 2002, it’s time to lance the boil.
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