The word “corrupt” was bandied about by the National Party a lot when they were in opposition. Day after day, they targeted Labour in Parliament using the term to refer to Labour’s 2005 election pledge card.

So how ironic it is to see this story on TV3’s Campbell Live last night, involving none other than National’s Mount Albert byelection candidate Melissa Lee:

It is alleged Lee continued to involve herself with making election programmes when she and her friend and colleague Pansy Wong were themselves part of the programme.

Even more damaging, it is alleged that she used NZ On Air funded Asia Down Under staff and equipment to make a National Party campaign video.

From where I’m sitting, there’s only one word for that!

Maybe Ravi Musuku will have a reason to complete his webpage after all.

Hat Tip: The Standard for the video

UPDATE: As John A points out at The Standard, Asia Down Under doesn’t appear in the National Party’s electoral expenses return either. This just keeps getting more interesting.

8 thoughts on “Corrupt!

  1. that would explain why Lee is so dysfunctionally aggressive and defensive – lots to hide.

  2. burt, while I suspect Labour knew they were pushing the boundaries with the pledge card, I think it is fair to say that the law wasn’t entirely clear about the purposes for which Parliamentary Service funding could be used, and almost every party in Parliament got pinged to some extent by the Auditor-General.

    So while the pledge card was unlawful, I wouldn’t say it amounted to corruption – they just thought they could get away with more under the law as it was then than evenntually proved to be the case. (Their stupidity in trying to subsequently defend it, however, is another matter, and is a good part of the reason they are now in Opposition imo).

    But if it transpires that Melissa Lee’s publicly funded company AsiaVision made a video for the National Party campaign and this was deliberately omitted from National’s election donations and expenses return, I would suggest that would be corruption.

  3. That’s bollocks. They were warned by the chief electoral officer not to use tax payers money and they did anyway. Then they validated it and we were told to move on. The Green party voted for the validations and the Green party were also identified as having stolen tax payers money in Bradley’s report.

    Sure Bradley may have been wrong but if he was then why didn’t any of the identified corrupt parties take it to court and defend their actions?

    Look I agree corruption should be investigated and punished. But I think we should do this in all cases not just the cases where [my_party] were not the ones caught with their snouts in the trough.

  4. That’s bollocks. They were warned by the chief electoral officer not to use tax payers money and they did anyway.

    Right, because like every other Party they thought it was legal at the time and disagreed with the Commissioner’s interpretation, thinking they were on solid ground. They shouldn’t have tried to defend their actions afterward, I agree, and seen from this perspective you can understand why it never went to court: Nobody wanted to be the only one to make their case there, because it would be a publicity nightmare that would undermine a key political office.

    Back on topic, there’s a big difference to having a conflicting legal opinion, and actively owning a media outlet while you are campaigning for a position or sitting as a Member of Parliament.

  5. ”Right, because like every other Party they thought it was legal at the time and disagreed with the Commissioner’s interpretation, thinking they were on solid ground.”

    Almost; Like many other parties Labour decided the status quo rort of tax payers from the previous 14 years was more expedient than the intrepretation of the law by the Commissioner. There was an election to win Ari and they did things they were told were not allowed to do. They spent tax payers money electioneering… Is this thread about something similar or is it different when it’s National vs Labour?

    You can continue to defend this based on “the ref made a bad call” and “parliament knows more about the law than the courts” etc etc but all you are doing is enhancing my position that some plonkers think it’s fine when “their party” are the ones doing it but think the sky is falling when “other parties” are doing it.

    I just think it’s wrong. Simple simple simple – the rules are the rules and they are not something that you ignore/enforce only when expedient to your own agenda.

  6. I’ll leave the speculation of whether she has actually done anything wrong to those who think they know best, and actually wait until all the facts come out and there is a ruling one way or the other.
    If she is wrong I’m picking Key will deal with it well and come out looking like a really effective PM who deals ethically with such issues.

  7. And me, I’m a cynic;
    I actually was in the gallery when Melissa Lee gave her maiden speech to the House, and her presentation was very much that of someone who was a ‘media star’, and knew that the incoming Government recognised that.

    I’m prepared to go out on a limb & say my hunch is, just like the episode where PM John Key used copyrighted tunes for his campaign CD, this was done knowingly, but they thought they could pull it off.
    Arrogance, in other words.

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