NZ Herald Crowdsourcing: We found nothing, but let’s smear National anyway

The NZ Herald launched a “crowdsourcing” initiative to go digging into political donations after the returns were released by they Electoral Commission.

It is the sort of panty sniffing behaviour we’ve come to expect from the Herald.

Basically they are trying to find ?donors and then single them out for this donation or that donation and try to pass some sort of moral judgment on that.

Little wonder then that donors try to remain as anonymous as they can.

Essentially though the Herald has found nothing, but after touting their great initiative with much fanfare they had to write something. David Fisher was obviously busy making up something else so they pulled in Matt Nippert to write the hit job.

An analysis of electoral finance declarations shows more than 80 per cent of donations to National Party candidates were channelled through party headquarters in a loophole described as akin to legal “laundering”.

National’s heavy reliance on funding candidates with donations from the party – shown in a Herald study to account for more than $1m out of $1.2m raised by their candidates for the 2014 general election – was a “striking use of electoral law that appears to be laundering the money”, said Otago University political science lecturer Bryce Edwards.

Electoral law requires candidates to reveal the identity of donors who contribute $1,500 or more, but political parties can keep donors secret even if they give up to $15,000.

Dr Edwards said the channelling of candidate donations through parties had “become a way around” having to disclose more information about the source of campaign funds.

“It’s not illegal and it’s up to different interpretations whether it’s ethical or not, but there should now be heat on politicians to explain what’s going on and to tighten up this loophole,” he said.

It’s not illegal, the law is operating as it is intended but a left wing university lecturer now tells us this is a loophole and as a result is somehow murky.

National Party president Peter Goodfellow strongly rejected any suggestion that donations to candidates from the party were used to obfuscate the source of funds.

He said the practice had more to do with time-frames around candidate selection and a longer-term fundraising cycle. “National is fundraising pretty actively throughout the three-year election cycle. People are donating to support a race before there’s even a candidate selected,” he said.

Mr Goodfellow said these donations were therefore impossible to tag to candidates and, “as our people often really give to the party”, were not be subject to the $1,500 declaration thresholds for candidates.

But the level of National’s donations to candidates through party structures remains striking when compared to Labour, whose donations to candidates accounted for only 35 per cent of campaign income.

So Labour didn’t have the wit nor the money to do it therefore it must be murky? It isn’t National’s fault that Moira Coatsworth and Tim Barnett were tits at fundraising.

But the Herald and Edwards have to smear away.

Once again though they have focussed on beltway issues that Kiwis just don;t care about.

Political donations are legal, National hasn’t broken the law, yet they cop a hit job anyway.

No wonder the NZ Herald is losing readership.

 

– NZ Herald

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