Labour's legal problems

Last night I released the letter from the Electoral Commission about my complaint about Labour’s election advertisments. They have?referred?the matter to the Police for prosecution.

I note that in the letter from the Electoral Commission,?there is the following statement:

“Was not authorised in writing by the party secretary of the Labour Party prior to publication.”

In other words, the Electoral Commission believes that Labour has broken the “Brethren Clause” which Labour was responsible for introducing.

This is no minor matter.

It means that the Goffice, did not have authorisation from the Party to publish?any election advertisements at all.

And to make it worse,?Grant Robertson embarrassingly named one Phillip Bruce Goff as the unauthorised publisher of these illegal election advertisements:

?Despite the absence of a formal promoter statement, the pamphlet did include in a prominent way the name and contact details of the party leader, so there could be no doubt as to its author,? Grant Robertson said.

The Electoral Commission guidance on the written consent issue is as clear as it gets:

Be aware that if something is deemed to be an election advertisement that promotes a candidate or party, then it must have the prior written ?authorisation of the candidate or party.

The costs of any advertisements published during the regulated period that promote a candidate or party will count towards both the candidate?s and the ?party?s election expenses.

You don?t need to give yourself written authorisation to publish your candidate advertisements but if your publications encourage or persuade voters to vote for your party, you must have written authorisation from the party secretary.

There are two reasons for these requirements:

  • firstly, it provides candidates and parties a power of veto over who is able to promote them through election advertising;
  • secondly, if a third party wants to promote you by publishing advertisements during the regulated period, they must have your prior written authorisation, because it will count as part of your election expenses.

So what this means is that the Goffice, and Phillip Bruce Goff in particular, have broken another law. ?Namely, that the Parliamentary arm of the Labour Party was not officially authorised to be sending out election ads. ?Logically, this means that the Parliamentary arm of the Labour Party and Phil Goff himself are liable for any fines – up to $40,000 on each count.

This is amateur-hour stuff. ?It’s a basic matter that Labour should have sorted out long before the Goffice started pumping out tens of thousands of taxpayer funded election ads.

Given that everyone knew about the strategy to use taxpayer funding ‘to benefit the LP’, ?the sheer incompetence of not sorting out this simple piece of paperwork beggars belief.

So what are they up for?so far?

Failing to include a promoter statement x2 = $80,000 maximum
Failing to get written consent x2 = $80,000 maximum

So the Parliamentary arm of the Labour Party (read:taxpayer) ?or Phil Goff himself, could be liable for up to $160,000 in fines.