Now that the people charged have been named after name suppression was withdrawn it is the worst of possible outcomes for National. Now we can see the tip of a rather large mountain of dung that is threatening to topple over and bury the Simon Bridges-led National party. They can no longer distance themselves from the hundreds of thousands of dirty dollars still resting in their accounts.
Resting for a long time, Simon, a good long rest.
Jami-Lee Ross was the keeper of secrets. He was Chief Whip and before that a junior whip. He knows who is rooting whom and he knows where the bodies are buried because he helped bury them. He ran hit jobs on his own MPs at the behest of John Key, Bill English, Simon Bridges and Paula Bennett. He was also National’s bagman with the Chinese, much to the displeasure of Jian Yang. All of that is likely to now get aired for about as long as the time the dirty money has been resting in National’s accounts. You may be sure that these guys also gave a lot more than $200,000 to National.
The distance National are trying to put between themselves and Jami-Lee Ross is purported to be enormous when in reality the distance is the thickness of a condom between a whore and her client. Claiming you didn’t have sex with the hooker because you wore a condom is a big ask. But that is what National wants you to believe.
Jami-Lee Ross was groomed, first by John Key, who by all accounts spoke of Jami-Lee like he was his familiar, a pet toad that liked being scratched just at the back of it head. Key groomed and enabled him and set him on his path to power. Firstly as a junior whip, then later with a more senior role.
Bill English furthered the grooming, promoting him to the Chief Whip position, which also landed him a place on the board. The ultimate keeper of party secrets and a key role for a young man, that enabled him to foster and build relationships with the donors as a way for them to get access to the leadership.
As Chief Whip he was responsible for internal discipline and became known as a bit of a head kicker. He turned on those who got him into parliament, even Maurice Williamson, Judith Collins and Cameron Slater. He stopped listening to wise counsel and instead did whatever Bill English wanted. It was Jami-Lee Ross who did over Todd Barclay, and ironically it was his role in that beheading that alerted him to the fact that he was next when Mark Mitchell tapped on his door late one night. Until that point, the power was intoxicating but ultimately toxic.
Watching National claim that ‘no one prosecuted was a National Party MP’, when Jami-Lee Ross was the Chief Whip and a senior member of the leadership team at the time, is a shell game designed to try and get the media to buy the rogue MP story that National and their sycophants have been peddling since the moment they decided to chuck him on the train tracks.
Remember how this all started?
According to National, Jami-Lee Ross was aggrieved that Simon Bridges didn’t honour his commitments to him for assisting Bridges to win the leadership battle. Then Simon Bridges’ travel details leaked three days before they were due to be made public anyway.
Simon Bridges, on the basis that he looked into Trevor Mallard‘s eyes and knew he was lying, convinced himself that it was Trevor Mallard who was the leaker. He launched with great fanfare a major and expensive investigation that ultimately, on the slimmest of evidence and out of context text messages, outed Jami-Lee Ross as the leaker. What people don’t know is that the inquiry was so invasive it appalled most of the caucus, but it also was the first play in the setting up of Jami-Lee Ross. The most likely leaker was, in fact, the one put in charge of the inquiry and also the one in the best possible position to blame someone else. By this time Bridges and Ross had fallen out and so it was decided to pin the blame on him, and chuck him on the tracks.
The National hierarchy, realising how damaging this all could be, decided to go nuclear on JLR. They held a sham meeting between them and Ross and then walked out of the meeting and named him as the leaker.
Paula Bennett then went on TV and brought up his marriage, and a deluge of anonymous accusations of abuse came from women working inside the leadership’s offices. Bennett then supervised and coordinated the meetings between Melanie Reid of Newsroom and Sarah Dowie, Rhonda Williams and Katrina Bungard. Newsroom was conveniently already working with Bungard, and when Bennett was told of this she got editor Tim Murphy to call her and added in three more women to the story. They had this already in the can when they met with Ross, but Bridges overcooked the claims to Ross and told him there were dozens of complaints. Bennett then sat in on the interviews with Melanie Reid to supervise. One interview was even held in Bennett’s office.
What is not generally known, is that this could all have been avoided by the party if they’d dealt with Katrina Bungard’s complaint over Ross’s behaviour at the time. That might well have pulled Ross into line, but it was all swept under the carpet by Bill English, Wayne Eagleson and Peter Goodfellow. They got Maurice Williamson to mediate and got a signed agreement between the parties on file. Bungard got a list position for taking one for the team in Manurewa. Jami-Lee Ross got a slap on the hand with a wet bus ticket and Peter Goodfellow buried it all.
As a result of this intense pressure, applied by Bennett to rinse Ross, he had a breakdown, ending up on the train tracks waiting for the next freight train. Now he has been charged by the SFO for things he could only have done at the behest of the leadership.
This whole mess of ego, abuse of power, depression, anger and political toxicity makes Macbeth seem like a child’s nursery rhyme.
Jami-Lee Ross is National’s problem and theirs alone. They’re responsible for his behaviour despite all of their obfuscation and dissembling. He’s not some rogue lone wolf seeking revenge. He’s a creature moulded and shaped by their leadership.
They can’t disown him. The things for which he has been charged are things he did for the leadership. All roads lead to Simon Bridges and Paula Bennett now.
Doing what Bridges and Bennett are doing, saying it’s not National’s problem is just insane. That is ignoring the involvement of senior Nat party people in the organisation of the donations. Ignoring that a whip for the party was a bagman. If you believe National has nothing to do with this then where is the money? It is resting in National’s account, and it’s been resting there a good long time. Whips don’t have carte blanche or the ability to influence policy or to select Chinese list MPs, and Chinese donors don’t give money to low-level MPs, they give to leaders. Leaders control minions.
If you believe National are blameless then you also have to believe that Simon Bridges has no control over his party, his MPs or his staff. You have to believe that all that happened on his watch and that he knew nothing.
Or Occam’s Razor applies, that the simplest explanation is the most likely, and then you realise that you have to come to the conclusion that National is morally corrupt and ethically bankrupt.
National and Simon Bridges can no longer pretend they knew nothing, and this will all come out either in the media or in the court. Either way, it is coming out and when it does then Simon Bridges’ and Paula Bennett’s leadership are over for good. Peter Goodfellow should be held to account too for his part in all this.
Only when the leadership of the party is torn down and excised from their positions, will National be able to start to rebuild.
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