Hard News by Russell Brown


John Banks: The volunteer did it

In news today, the police announced that although they have established that John Banks personally solicited donations to his 2010 Auckland mayoralty campaign from Kim Dotcom (2 x $25,000), SkyCity ($15,000) and a benefactor they agreed not to name ($15,690 in radio advertising), and was personally handed the SkyCity donation in an envelope -- yet later declared those donations as having been anonymous -- there is insufficient evidence to prosecute him under section 134(1) (of the Local Electorate Act.

The police letter bringing the news to complainant Trevor Mallard says Banks told police he asked the campaign volunteer who compiled the return whether was full and accurate and, on being thus assured, signed it.

I accept Graeme Edgeler's view that the police were simply working with the law they had and that it was always going to be difficult to prove that Banks knew the contents of the return he signed and, in particular, their relationship to the donations he had personally solicited.

But I would observe thus:

• I find it extremely difficult to believe that John Banks was unaware of substantial donations he had personally solicited.

• A law that cannot hold a candidate responsible for a document he has signed is a law that needs to be changed.

• I would like to hear the reasoning that prompted Banks' rival Len Brown to declare an identical donation from SkyCity, and in particular about the nature of his own team's discussion with SkyCity. Was there, for instance, a request for anonymity?

• Was the donation of the radio advertising in-kind? Was it therefore from a radio station or radio station owner? If so, I would like to know which radio station was involved.

• I greatly look forward to John Banks fronting up to media interviews today to freely and frankly answer questions about this.

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