Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: John Banks: The volunteer did it

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  • Rich of Observationz,

    John Key:

    "The minister has always given an assurance that he's complied with the law, and I believe that's been confirmed by the police today."

    Is breaking the law, but getting away with it due to a time limit, the same as 'complying with the law'?

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

  • DexterX,

    Banks told police he asked the campaign volunteer who compiled the return whether was full and accurate and, on being thus assured, signed it.

    Banks signed a declaration without knowing what it was, this makes him unfit for public office

    Banks is saying he never read the declaration before signing it and never took the time to check what he was signing was correct and this is accepted.

    It really is bullshit - this stance would not be a defence for an “ordinary person” who say signed the declaration on say their tax return or signed a declaration on an application for a welfare benefit and then that return/application/declaration was found to be flawed. An ordinary person in these circumstances would be facing considerable tax penalties or a fraud charge in respect of the benefit.

    The law is bent for themz that is the political elite and used to bludgeon the “ordinary person”.

    The amount of smirking that goes on with themz knowing they got away with it is nauseating

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    If politicians don't know who is giving them money, they can't do them any favours.

    Hogwash - you believe that is the reality of things - Really?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to DexterX,

    Hogwash – you believe that is the reality of things – Really?

    No. But that is the rationale behind it.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to DexterX,

    It really is bullshit – this stance would not be a defence for an “ordinary person” who say signed the declaration on say their tax return or signed a declaration on an application for a welfare benefit and then that return/application/declaration was found to be flawed. An ordinary person in these circumstances would be facing considerable tax penalties or a fraud charge in respect of the benefit.

    The problem isn't ordinary person vs. extraordinary person. It's tax/fraud law vs. electoral law.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    The problem isn't ordinary person vs. extraordinary person

    The problem is, more than an impression, that themz that is the political elite can get away with whatever they want to get away with regardless of any provision at law be it electoral law or otherwise.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to DexterX,

    Banks signed a declaration without knowing what it was, this makes him unfit for public office

    As Graeme notes in his own post, this is now a political, rather than a legal, issue.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • jb,

    The intern/volunteer did it

    Now how often have I used THAT ploy to take the heat of one of my staff (before I gave them a bollocking in private)
    And exactly the same lame excuse that a Frankfurt art museum gave for lifting an image (http://bit.ly/Kj2Czo) from my blog and using to in a 400,000 print run. (Equals 2 new iPhones in license fees plus penalty...)

    a.small.town.in.germany • Since Jan 2007 • 86 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Lawyer Andrew Geddis is unsurprised by the legal outcome, but summarises the implications of Banks' behaviour (emphasis in original):

    We know John Banks went around wealthy people and companies getting donations in the five figures. The Police clearly are of the opinion he did so in full knowledge they were giving him this significant support. But he then signed a document purporting to accurately declare who had given him the money for his campaign apparently without even reading it, but simply after asking the volunteer who put it together "you're sure this is accurate?"

    OK. This story gets him off the hook legally. But, you know ... this guy presently is a Minister of the Crown, holding responsibility for Regulatory Reform and Small Business, as well as being the Associate Minister of Commerce and Associate Minister of Education.

    And he doesn't even read the things that get put in front of him.

    Apparently it doesn't take ethics or even basic competence to be a Minister these days. Epsom must be proud.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to DexterX,

    The law is bent for themz that is the political elite and used to bludgeon the “ordinary person”.

    Chris Hayes also agrees, in his new book Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy, where he basically says American meritocracy has mutated into an aristo-plutocracy.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5443 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Sacha,

    Apparently it doesn’t take ethics or even basic competence to be a Minister these days. Epsom must be proud.

    The 3 News report has Banks' previous statements on camera about what he couldn't remember. It's a terrible look and Key looks bad too. And David Shearer's "he got off on a technicality" line actually makes it into the headline.

    I'd say Labour has been handed this one on a plate, but that wouldn't actually be true. This investigation happened because Mallard made a complaint. Credit where due this time, I think.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Noticed Key on TV1 (or TV3?) news saying his test for a Minister involved "ethics" as well as law. The word must mean something different to a wideboy money trader, I guess.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Clarke,

    Anyhoo, leaving aside the legal niceties, I'd like to put out a big thanks to the citizens of Epsom for inflicting Banks and his morally repugnant fellow-travellers on the country. Good job, people!

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 85 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Russell Brown,

    The 3 News report has Banks' previous statements on camera about what he couldn't remember. It's a terrible look and Key looks bad too.

    So that makes it a pyrrhic victory for the Earl of Epsom?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5443 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    I would also welcome another agency than the Police making decisions about prosecution, given their repeated failure over many years to reflect the most basic common sense over whether there is enough evidence to bother lodging a case with the courts.

    Be careful what you wish for. Using the police to silence your opponents is a favourite tactic in authoritarian tin-pot "democracies" like Singapore. The police are justifiably very reluctant to become regular participants in our electoral process. Banks may be a particularly egregious example of weaseling, but given the way politicians are fond of throwing to the police all sorts of complaints about often trifling breaches of the law for purely political reasons the idea that police prosecutions could become major determinants in the outcome of our elections sends a chill down my spine.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Sacha,

    TOWIE path...

    ...involved “ethics” as well as law. The word must mean something different to a wideboy money trader...

    ...with Key's diction , I'm sure he's saying 'Essex'!
    - ain't no ethics there neither...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    Graeme, is there any way that a Court could have prevented John Banks from so brazenly subverting our laws?

    If I were a judge, I would surely have found that there was one large donation, not two anonymous ones; and that Banks' dishonesty (whether at the time of the conversation with Dotcom or subsequently) caused his return to contain false particulars. How have the Police avoided the irresistible inference that Banks intended to avoid making proper disclosure of the donation at the time he solicited it?

    The very least that can be said is that Banks' is a scheming and dishonourable weasel: his own actions put him on enquiry yet he failed to take due care, he was reckless as to whether his electoral return was true or false, and he degraded others by including them in his efforts to avoid his obligations. It would be an unforgivable affront if he did not resign.

    Since Nov 2006 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Sacha,

    The word must mean something different to a wideboy money trader

    It means, if can you get more money and not get caught doing anything they can convict you on, then you are ethical.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Geddis, in reply to WH,

    How have the Police avoided the irresistible inference that Banks intended to avoid making proper disclosure of the donation at the time he solicited it?

    Because that isn't the legal issue - the issue is whether he "knowingly" sent in a return of his donations that was false. And he's come up with a possible story as to why he didn't that makes it hard to say beyond reasonable doubt that he did. So the police decided it would be a waste of time prosecuting him.

    As for "The very least that can be said is that Banks’ is a scheming and dishonourable weasel" ... sure . Which is why, as Graeme Edgeler's post says, this is now a political and not legal issue.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2007 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    It means, if can you get more money and not get caught doing anything they can convict you on, then you are ethical.

    William K Black says hi.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5443 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    the idea that police prosecutions could become major determinants in the outcome of our elections

    which they do now, as we've seen in matters teapot. I agree about keeping these decisions away from the Police though. Surely there's an agency that can handle referrals for prosecution better?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to WH,

    It would be an unforgivable affront if he did not resign

    Expect to be affronted. The chap has a degree in it. :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I'm happy. This investigation relates to an election that he lost, so it's not like his weasel ways won him anything. Maybe it might have prevented him winning Epsom if this had come out ages ago, but I suspect it just would have meant that we would have Don Brash instead of him.

    The police have been pretty clear that he's done the dirty, but they can't convict him on it, but it's another good nail in the coffin of his career and in the the ACT party. Only a little over 2 years to go!

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • WH, in reply to Andrew Geddis,

    You're probably right, I suppose I'm reluctant to accept such an unappealing conclusion.

    I just think there has to be some degree of knowledge imputed to Banks here. He asked Dotcom to structure his donation in a way that was plainly intended to facilitate the falsification of an electoral return. He can't be allowed to avoid responsibility by failing to exercise due care or by simply forgetting he did anything wrong in the first place.

    And who forgets that a notorious German businessman gave you $50,000 in two conveniently anonymous payments? I guess it must have been sometime after Banks phoned him to say thank you.

    Since Nov 2006 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to WH,

    And who forgets that a notorious German businessman gave you $50,000 in two conveniently anonymous payments? I guess it must have been sometime after Banks phoned him to say thank you.

    According to his statement in front of a 3 News camera, Banks also forgot literally being handed a sealed envelope containing a $15,000 cheque by the chief executive of SkyCity casino. To say this is unconvincing is something of an understatement.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

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