The long list of reasons for not voting for either Winston Peters or his party got a couple of additions this week:
First his response to a legitimate quesiton from a journalist:
“Print one thing wrong, sunshine, and I will sue you,” Mr Peters said before hanging up.
And now Audrey Young reports on emails which suggest Labour’s biggest donor also gave money to NZ First.
The emails suggest repeated denials by Foreign Minister Winston Peters that his New Zealand First Party received a donation from businessman Owen Glenn appear to be incorrect. A private email from Mr Glenn to his public relations man in New Zealand says he did give the party a donation.
Mr Peters was last night sticking by his story, saying through a spokesman that Mr Glenn had not given the party money – “he did not” – but he refused any other comment.
The conflicting stories raise credibility issues, as Mr Peters produced a large “NO” sign at a press conference soon after questions of a donation to his party arose.
Did he get part of “no” wrong?
Prime Minister Helen Clark refused to comment last night. While she has sacked ministers for incorrect comments, they have been Labour ministers. She runs a minority Government, relying on New Zealand First in confidence and supply votes. With an election less than five months away, she would want to avoid any conflict with Mr Peters.
There may also be the tricky matter of her response to questions over works of art signed, but not painted, by her. That would normally be a sacking offence for a Miniser of Arts. Peters would be less tolerant than Labour MPs are of her expecting higher standards of other Ministers than she does of herself.
The email exchange between Mr Glenn and PR man Steve Fisher, managing director of Baldwin Boyle, occurred in February this year when the Monaco-based businessman was visiting New Zealand to open the Owen G. Glenn building at the Auckland University Business School.
Mr Fisher emailed Mr Glenn on February 21 about a Herald story on the businessman’s donations to political parties. He was concerned that Mr Glenn and Mr Peters continued to give the same story.
Mr Glenn, in his reply to Mr Fisher, disclosed that he gave to the party.
Steve Fisher: Our plan worked well. There is nothing new about you in here Owen. Note that Winston says you have never made a donation to NZ First, so at all costs you must stick to that line. It was definitely the right thing to do to deny the Maori party offer as well.
Owen Glenn: Steve – are you saying I should deny giving a donation to NZ First?? When I did?
Steve Fisher: No, just stick to the line of referring stuff to NZ First. What I’m saying is we don’t want to contradict Winston.
Last night, Mr Glenn was in Monaco, and when asked why he had not said in February that he gave money, he said: “I made a decision not to say anything to anybody because there was so much controversy about everything. I was just there to open the business school so I just didn’t want to get caught up in anything … I elected not to say anything.”
At the moment it is Peters’ word against Glen’s so the Electoral Commission must investigate the allegations with urgency. If the issue is not sorted out before the election voters have a very easy way to show which one they believe.
Hat tip: Keeping Stock