Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: $420,259.33

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  • Rich of Observationz,

    The received wisdom is very much that it is

    I don't think I'd use Whalespunk as my lawyer, thank you..

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    which has disappointed a number of people.

    This number of people being exclusively made up of online National Party activists.

    I am so concerned that now I am wondering if the boss is going to bring in donuts for morning tea again today or not.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2212 posts Report Reply

  • izogi,

    I simply cannot accept "confusion" as an explanation. Being confused about this means you received the money and thought about it whether it had to be disclosed, and just couldn't make up your mind for certain either way.

    Does it? Maybe under a strict definition within a domain, but casually to me it could mean that they were wrong but were completely convinced they were right, then realised afterwards that they'd been "confused", maybe when a smart person showed up and pointed it out.

    I don't think this is a valid excuse, nor does it show anything but unacceptable performance for the important role they were in and maybe that kind of thing should warrant a penalty for parties or individuals on its own, but....... malice... incompetence... yadiyadiyada.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1139 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    I don’t think I’d use Whalespunk as my lawyer, thank you..

    Well, he couldn’t do a worse job that whoever is advising Tim Barnett nowadays. Even putting the legal issues aside, what the fuck was Barnett thinking in not (as Graeme pointed out) showing some basic political judgement in disclosing on the side of caution? When you’re piously intoning that the other bastards are so crooked they require a corkscrew to eat soup, it kind of helps if you don’t lay yourself open to charges of hypocrisy. At least, you might think so.

    Labour got very lucky that the lamestream media were in full Gilmorepalooza mode, as well as the Police continuing with their “don’t know, care even less” approach to breeches of electoral law. But the only sure thing about luck is that it runs out.

    I am so concerned that now I am wondering if the boss is going to bring in donuts for morning tea again today or not.

    Good-o, Tom. I expect you be equally unconcerned if National has a little "Oh, but it's so complicated" brain-fade about properly disclosing over $400K in donations, and (yet again) nobody gets prosecuted. Yes? Now if only the tax and welfare authorities were similarly civilized in their treatment of easily confused beneficiaries and individuals who don't have slick tax advisors.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Even putting the legal issues aside, what the fuck was Barnett thinking in not (as Graeme pointed out) showing some basic political judgement in disclosing on the side of caution?

    I think you may (mostly) mean Flatt, not Barnett.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Political parties in NZ tend to run on the smell of an oily rag and don't have money to retain legal departments for interpretations.

    The Electoral Commission has accepted there was no intention to deceive, and as a bequest it hardly falls into the category of corporate donations that National launders through it's so-called "blind" trusts, which is a real, actual ongoing political corruption scandal. Like I said, the only people who seemed interested in trying to whip this up are National's online dirty tricks brigade and their usual cyphers.

    BTW there appears to be no donuts. :(

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2212 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    This number of people being exclusively made up of online National Party activists.

    I'll make sure Idiot/Savant of No Right Turn is aware of his new designation:

    Update: According to NewstalkZB's Felix Marwick, the Electoral Commission has accepted Labour's excuse of "confusion as to whether a bequest counts as a donation" and there will be no referral to police. So the law means nothing again. What is the point of electoral law if it is never enforced?

    ref: http://norightturn.blogspot.co.nz/2013/05/unacceptable.html

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to izogi,

    I don’t think this is a valid excuse, nor does it show anything but unacceptable performance for the important role they were in and maybe that kind of thing should warrant a penalty for parties or individuals on its own, but……. malice… incompetence… yadiyadiyada.

    Well, I think it's fair to point out that "yadiyadiyada" is not the attitude successive National and Labour governments have taken to beneficiaries, superannuatants and student loan holders. If my partner decided to not declare over $400K in extra income to the IRD and the MSD, I don't think "but I sincerely thought I didn't have to" would get a particularly sympathetic hearing.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    Political parties in NZ tend to run on the smell of an oily rag and don’t have money to retain legal departments for interpretations.

    First, Labour's Party Secretary is certainly a full-time paid position.
    Second, I am entirely confident there is someone like me somewhere in the Labour Party whom the party secretary could call up for a two minute chat to sound out on an issue like this.
    Third, you don't need a legal team to just call up the Electoral Commission to ask when something new happens and you don't know how to deal with it.

    The Electoral Commission has accepted there was no intention to deceive, and as a bequest it hardly falls into the category of corporate donations that National launders through it’s so-called “blind” trusts, which is a real, actual ongoing political corruption scandal.

    Intention to deceive is not an element of the offence. Absence of intention to deceive does not provide a reasonable excuse. The offence is a strict liability offence.

    And if you have any evidence at all that National is using blind trusts to hide the real source of donations, please take it to the Electoral Commission, or the police, or David Fisher. This is now illegal. In some circumstances at least, prison sentences are possible.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    OK, with the (honourable) exception of I/S, who retains a charming ability to appear to be as outraged at a local city councillor double parking and wiggling off the ticket as he is over the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2212 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    First, Labour’s Party Secretary is...

    Blah blah blah.

    Personally, I think you are blowing sanctimonious smoke out of your arse for party political reasons.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2212 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    One can't fault Labour for at least playing an open card hand, unlike certain other notable organisations have filtered their donors via blind trusts. Or worse still, outrightly astroturfed.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5416 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    Political parties in NZ tend to run on the smell of an oily rag and don’t have money to retain legal departments for interpretations.

    To use a technical term, Tom, boo-fucking-hoo. There's tens of thousands of incorporated societies and registered charities in this country whose volunteers have to put in the time and effort to obey the law. Dismiss it as "sanctimonious blah blah" if you like Tom, but I'm pretty down with being on the committee of a registered charity that takes its compliance with the Charities Act seriously. (An Act, BTW, that was passed under the last Labour Government.)

    And as Graeme pointed out, it doesn't cost a thing to pick up the phone and ask the Electoral Commission for advice. That's kinda sorta their job, and most people would say they do it rather well.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    One can’t fault Labour for at least playing an open card hand, unlike certain other notable organisations have filtered their donors via blind trusts. Or worse still, outrightly astroturfed.

    Yes you can.

    First, Labour took over a year to play that open hand.

    Second, while under the old law, National filtered donations through blind trusts, Labour filtered some of their donations through solicitor's trust accounts.

    You may also have noted that "Labour's" candidate for the supercity mayoralty at the last election used the same trust structure for hiding the true source of donations as National used to (which had been outlawed by that stage at the national level, but hasn't yet at the local government level).

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    I'm sorry Craig, but I'm just not buying these sorts of pious little Goody Two-Shoes routines that always just coincidentially happen to focus on Labour's finances anymore.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2212 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    I’m just not buying these sorts of pious little Goody Two-Shoes routines that always just coincidentally happen to focus on Labour’s finances anymore.

    What aspects of National's finances do you believe have broken the law over the last few years?

    Former Labour Party Secretary Mike Smith thought he found a remarkably similar one, although he had his date calculation wrong.

    Also, I believe Craig voted for the Green Party at the last election.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Labour said they were not sure, then they declared it, the Electoral Commission accepts that. The end. The only one getting his knickers in a twist over it is you. I am not interested in your "questions", because I'm not buying what I think is a partisan attempt to hawk a beat up. Try it on with Patrick Gower, that dork always seems interested in making mountains out of molehills.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2212 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    tens of thousands of incorporated societies and registered charities in this country whose volunteers have to put in the time and effort to obey the law

    I'd be interested what the average number of technical breaches of the law is for such organisations. The only one I've been involved with has certainly made quite few.

    Anyway, while you get all uptight about this, what about various (then and current) SOEs (Mighty River, Genesis, Solid Energy) funding Business NZ to spout NACT propaganda on the taxpayers dollar. All perfectly legal, apparently.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    I’m sorry Craig, but I’m just not buying these sorts of pious little Goody Two-Shoes routines that always just coincidentially happen to focus on Labour’s finances anymore.

    Fine, Tom. My actual opinion on this hasn’t changed in seven years, but whatever gets you through the night, cherub.
    that
    And for Rich’s benefit.

    Anyway, while you get all uptight about this,…

    Yeah, I do get “uptight” about people obeying the Electoral Act, not least because it’s pretty awesome (but not to be taken complacently) to live in a country that has an international reputation for free, fair and credible elections run by agencies that are respect for being corruption-free and independent of partisan interference.

    I’m really sorry both National and Labour seem to have problems complying with (not exactly onerous) electoral law on a depressingly routine basis, but diddums. You people can't keep your books in good order, but you want me to trust you to run a country? Yeah, right.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    I think Graeme is right - it should have been disclosed - from a purely moral point of view - the legal one is just an angels on heads of pins thing.

    Personally I think every single dollar a party or candidate for public office takes in should be published - something that was hard to do back in the days of ledgers and cheques, and relatively easy to do these days - take a cell phone picture of each and every cheque and publish those (some places let you deposit checks by taking pictures of them and uploading them to your back account anyway) and a pic of your monthly statement and throw them on line - see easy - and good for our democracy too. Even better, avoid all those secret trusts/etc, change the law so politicians and parties can only accept personal cheques.

    I can understand there's one non-obvious reason why politicians don;t want to reveal this stuff - they don't want the competition to see how much they can spend during an election - just like how many members they have on the ground is also a state secret

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2606 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    Even better, every party donation should be accompanied by a photo of both sides of the credit card with the donor's name, address and PIN, available for public browsing.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Craig, what I have had enough of is exquisitely detailed attempts to beat up a story about the Labour party finances masquerading as the PAS “legal beagle”. Graeme Edgler has managed to find the time to craft almost 1350 words on this non-issue, yet he is completely silent about the law being for sale to Sky City, or the outrageous extension of the criminal law to target anti-mining protesters. AFAIK this post would be far more at home as a guest post on Kiwiblog (where, hey presto! it has been more or less reproduced in toto, approvingly).

    Even better, every party donation should be accompanied by a photo of both sides of the credit card with the donor’s name, address and PIN, available for public browsing.

    Heh. Actually, what would be better than that would be if the only source of party financing allowed came from party membership fees. that would force our political parties to actually care about having members.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2212 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    equally unconcerned if National has a little "Oh, but it's so complicated" brain-fade about properly disclosing over $400K in donations, and (yet again) nobody gets prosecuted.

    GST, 2005

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19685 posts Report Reply

  • Konrad Kurta,

    I kinda agree with Craig on this one. If someone gives you $400,000, you'd think you would make damn sure that every cent of it was squeaky clean, lest it politically blow up in your face. Personally, I'd love to know exactly who was donating. It could scare away potential donors, but if being identified scares a potential donor should they really be bankrolling a political party in the first place? Like Craig says, our reputation as one of the least corrupt countries in the world isn't one we should take lightly; it's built upon political transparency and systems that aren't too much trouble to adhere to - certainly not when someone gives you $400,000.

    South Korea • Since Dec 2012 • 43 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Konrad Kurta,

    The "donor" in question had finished his innings. Dead people aren't usually scared of a lot, really.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

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