‘Back Judith Collins’ website and the Taxpayers’ Union

The Taxpayers Union denies being involved in a pro-Judith Collins website that appeared briefly before being taken down. Whether they were or weren’t behind the site it is a curious story.

Stuff reported on Monday: Anonymous ‘Back Judith’ website has fake phone number, registered to Collins’ office address

An anonymous website backing Judith Collins for National Party leader is registered to her electorate office address, a fake phone number, and what appears to be a fake identity.

The now-deleted website BackJudith.nz said it is “in no way endorsed by the National Party formal hierarchy, or Judith Collins” – a view Collins echoes. But a domain name lookup on the service whois has the website registered to her office address and phone number.

Since Stuff published a story on the topic the website appears to have been deleted.

The name associated with the registration was Raquel Ray. There is no online or ownership records of a Raquel Ray in New Zealand, save for a recently set up Facebook account and a smattering of Official Information Act requests to Callaghan Innovation.

That Facebook account – which has posted a link to the BackJudith website – has a profile picture also found on a photography website. That photographer told Stuff the person in the photograph was someone else not named “Raquel Ray”.

Collins herself said she and her office had nothing to do with the website. She assumed it was someone who really did want to support her and simply remain anonymous.

“Well I know that nobody in my office would actually be able to do that. I presume it’s not someone trying to cause difficulty for me.”

If her office had set it up secretly “using my work address would be a really dumb thing to do.”

The website encourages people to sign an open letter to National MPs to back Collins for the leadership.

The NZ Taxpayers Union have run a campaign around Callaghan Innovation expenses. Director Jordan Williams said they had a “Raquel Ray” in their database as someone who had sent in tip-offs in the past.

Williams said he and his staff were not at all involved in the website.

Stuff followed up yesterday: Taxpayers Union’s Jordan Williams’ personal email connected to Judith Collins website

Taxpayers Union director Jordan Williams’ personal email address was connected to an anonymous website backing Judith Collins for the National Party leadership, information provided to Stuff shows.

Williams said he was not behind the website on Monday and continues to deny it on Tuesday, instead suggesting that he is the victim of an elaborate smear.

Williams said the Taxpayers Union had a “Raquel Ray” in its records as someone who had sent in tip-offs but ruled out any involvement from him or his staff.

“They’re in our database and have sent through a bunch of tips in the past,” Williams told Stuff on Monday.

“Otherwise we have absolutely no association and are not taking a position in this. It’s definitely not come from within.”

A screenshot provided to Stuff shows the Raquel Ray email address that was used to set-up the website has Williams’ personal email set as its password recovery email.

The last five letters of the email address are starred out but perfectly match Williams’ personal email address. He later confirmed he had received a message to that address concerning password recovery.

However, there is nothing to stop the person who controls the Raquel Ray account setting the account recovery address as Williams – there is no verification process.

Reached on Tuesday, Williams said that this “can’t be right”.

“I did get a password reset email randomly last night,” Williams said.

He confirmed he had no involvement with Raquel Ray – other than that email had sent in tip-offs to the Taxpayers Union in the past. He declined to immediately forward that correspondence on to Stuff.

After searching his inbox Williams said that he received an email to his personal address early on Tuesday morning saying his email had been added as the recovery address to the Raquel Ray account.

He declined to forward this on to Stuff, saying he wanted to get advice on that first.

“I’m very worried that this is some sort of setup,” Williams said.

He said his personal email address was available easily online and so it wouldn’t be that hard for someone to set him up in this manner.

Williams and his organisation maintain that they are politically independent.

Related to the ‘Raquel Ray’ tipoff to the Taxpayers Union on the Callaghan Institute

There are no online or property records linked to a “Raquel Ray” save for a recently setup Facebook account using a stolen photo and a smattering of OIA requests to Callaghan Innovation.

RNZ (5 February 2018): Taxpayers’ Union criticises Callaghan spending

Last week the Taxpayers’ Union revealed the government’s science funding agency Callaghan Innovation spent more than $300,000 in a year on entertaining clients and staff. Now it says new figures show it also spent about $2.4 million on travel and accommodation. Joining us in the studio is the executive director of the Taxpayers’ Union, Jordan Williams.

And this tweet:

From FYI.org.nz:

Expenses | Beer and Burger Joint

Request sent to Callaghan Innovation by Raquel Ray on .

Withdrawn by the requester. 

That’s the only OIA request by ‘Rachel Ray’ at FYI.

I haven’t seen the ‘Robert Preston’ lead investigated. I haven’t heard of that name and a quick search doesn’t come up with anything. Surely OIA requests can’t be anonymous?

So:

  • Who set up a website supporting Judith Collins but didn’t want to be identified?
  • Why was the website taken down as soon as curious information was reported?
  • Was Jordan Williams or the Taxpayers Union involved (this is denied)?
  • If Williams wasn’t involved, why has someone tried to link him to the website?

I’d have thought that if someone wanted to set Williams and/or the Taxpayers Union up they would have wanted maximum publicity, so why would they take the site down so quickly?

Another curious aspect – as far as I can see there is no mention of this ‘Back Judith Collins’ website on Whale Oil. If such an odd attempt to promote Judith Collins but then was suddenly taken done when publicised has involved one of the other four National leadership candidates Slater is likely to have poured scorn on it.

Perhaps Slater didn’t want to give any more publicity to another website backing Collins, as that would compete with Whale Oil’s hard core promotion of Collins – the WOBLOG party is in activism overdrive.

Both Collins and Williams have had connections to Slater and controversial political activities in the past.

NOTE: some apparent connections have been reported on, but denials have been made with serious alternative suggestions (a set up). Don’t assume, insinuate or claim anything as confirmed or fact unless you have confirmation or facts to back your comments up.

41 Comments

  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  February 21, 2018

    A dirty trick to slur Collins by association or a stupid trick to “help” her?

    The usual “never assume malevolence for what is adequately explained by stupidity” probably applies.

    • It seems amateurish and odd, so stupidity seems likely.

      • duperez

         /  February 21, 2018

        Is malevolence less worthy because it is amateurish and odd or so stupidly carried out? Does malevolence have more quality if it is finely dressed?

        • Gezza

           /  February 21, 2018

          Good questions duperez. What are your views?

          • duperez

             /  February 21, 2018

            I think someone in a suit, living a fancy lifestyle, who has a flash job, who has kids at fancy schools and who steals lots of money is a crook as much as some unemployed lout who someone steals stuff locally out of a suburban garage.

            I think a student with time on their hands waiting for the university year to start, intent on seeing what they can get away with causing mischief by getting up to ‘high jinks’ with media could easily be called ‘malevolent’ even if the event was a one-off and the effort amateurish.

            A person living an ostensibly respectable sophisticated life in the inner loop of the politically powerful, with access to the ‘movers and shakers’, and with all the tools to help them carry out a mission and continually do so with an intent of causing trouble might easily be called malevolent.

            The quality of malevolence is not strained.

  2. robertguyton

     /  February 21, 2018

    I don’t think anything less interesting than this has happened in New Zealand in the past decade.

    • Gezza

       /  February 21, 2018

      You’ve lived too excited a life, Robert. Boring things happen all the time. Reading your comment here was far less interesting than the above-reported “strange goings on”, for example.

      • robertguyton

         /  February 21, 2018

        And yet you were inspired to write in response, Gezza! Dull comments, it transpires, can provoke discussion so I guess that goes someway toward excusing dull stories like this on.

        • Gezza

           /  February 21, 2018

          I’m sorry but that comment is too uninteresting to read so I have no idea what it’s about, robert.

        • PDB

           /  February 21, 2018

          Robert: “Dull comments, it transpires, can provoke discussion”

          True, otherwise you’d get no responses to all your posts.

          • robertguyton

             /  February 21, 2018

            I’m not going to comment any further on this thread – my dull comment has caught the imaginations of PDB and Gezza and the resulting discussion is eclipsing the original ( very dull) topic of the post. Sorry, Pete.

  3. NOEL

     /  February 21, 2018

    Judith Collins in a puff piece on 7.
    Asked myself are Kiwis as dumb as Aussies when they bitched about Abbotts rolling without their input.

  4. Trevors_elbow

     /  February 21, 2018

    Oh look the usual suspects names popping up in tweets below… when is St Nicky going to investigate the Lefts dirty tricks camaigners?

    Never is the probably answer…..

  5. Blazer

     /  February 21, 2018

    trust Jordan Williams?…..sure….can’t!

  6. PDB

     /  February 21, 2018

    Jordon Williams personally supports Collins? Did anybody think he didn’t? Does that automatically mean the taxpayers union is politically biased?

  7. Zedd

     /  February 21, 2018

    GO Judith..
    I still doubt that the one who wins this contest, will still be there in 2020 ?! 😀

  8. High Flying Duck

     /  February 21, 2018

    So an amateur web page was set up anonymously to either help of harm Judith Collins and then was taken down?
    It said nothing of interest other than support Judith.
    you would have to plumb fairly subterranean depths to find less of a story really…

    • Gezza

       /  February 21, 2018

      What if it was Russians?

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  February 21, 2018

        Any advance on Chinese?

      • Pickled Possum

         /  February 21, 2018

        Get in touch with Robert Mueller … he’s good at weeding out rats … and Russians
        Let us know how it goes.

        • Gezza

           /  February 21, 2018

          Says he’s a bit busy at the moment … 🤔

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  February 21, 2018

          Has Mueller actually uncovered anything that wasn’t already known either publicly or to the intelligence services? Apart from interrogating minor players into perjuring themselves?

          • Pickled Possum

             /  February 21, 2018

            Could Trump have made a bad decision about who he hired as Aids
            or did he just use them. Who knows ..
            do you really trust Trump and what he says, is he a puppet or a pawn
            Gotta go spray the bugs.

            https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-russia-lawyer/mueller-ups-pressure-on-trump-campaign-aides-with-new-charge-idUSKCN1G41YM

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  February 21, 2018

              As I’ve said before, I watch what Trump does and ignore what he says since most of the latter is just intended to wind up his opponents.

              I don’t think he’s a puppet or a pawn. Far too idiosyncratic. I need to go spray weeds too. Hope it’s not too windy or wet.

            • Pickled Possum

               /  February 21, 2018

              sun shining and a little windy but those shield bugs are gonna get it from pyrethrum but not till tonight now. Just going to spray outside veranda for flies yeck they are everywhere

              I have just had some American jews visit and they say that things are bad for the blacks and the jews under trump and that he is not doing what he says he was going to do. The say he is the worst prezzy since .. no one worse than him. They are worried things are going to get even worse in America.
              ps he is a medical statistician. 😉

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  February 21, 2018

              Haven’t heard Trump say or do anything hostile to jews or blacks. Seems to be pretty close to Israel and his own daughter converted.

              Seems more like New York politics to me.

      • High Flying Duck

         /  February 21, 2018

        What if it turns out to be anyone who has been suggested?
        Jordan Williams set up the page! Umm…so what?
        But I’m with you. Those Russians are everywhere.
        I particularly worry about the Russians with Chinese sounding names buying up all the houses.

        • Gezza

           /  February 21, 2018

          Is there no end to their perfidy, H ! 😡

        • Blazer

           /  February 21, 2018

          I’d be more worried about spies with Chinese sounding…surnames,activity in..NZ.

    • Blazer

       /  February 21, 2018

      isn’t the Taxpayers Union meant tobe…apolitical?Ithink this is the ..point.

  9. phantom snowflake

     /  February 21, 2018

    While this doesn’t constitute “proof”, it is highly suggestive:

    ******* Pax‏ @matarikipax

    From a field of 4294967296 IPV4 addresses, backjudith nz and taxpayers org nz just happen to be two apart.
    backjudith nz 119.47.114.163
    taxpayers org nz 119.47.114.165
    3:02 PM – 20 Feb 2018

    • phantom snowflake

       /  February 21, 2018

      Also this:

      Alec‏ @AotearoaAlec
      Replying to @henrycooke

      Before Google uses the account recovery email address, you have to verify said account recovery email in the first place… So Jordan Williams would have verified the email that would have come through when account recovery was first set up.
      9:25 PM – 19 Feb 2018

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  February 21, 2018

        Yes, that’s pretty definitive. Williams has shot himself in the foot again. I have to agree with duperez that he looks like a malevolent idiot.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  February 21, 2018

      Both addresses owned by this provider: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/BU1509/S00533/umbrellar-nzs-largest-web-hosting-and-domain-name-company.htm

      Could be coincidence but it has 40% of the market so quite a likely one.

  10. robertguyton

     /  February 21, 2018

    phantom snowflake 17
    21 February 2018 at 2:29 pm
    More on the latest Jordan Williams drama from Twitter:

    ******* Pax‏ @matarikipax

    From a field of 4294967296 IPV4 addresses, backjudith nz and taxpayers org nz just happen to be two apart.
    backjudith nz 119.47.114.163
    taxpayers org nz 119.47.114.165

    Alec‏ @AotearoaAlec
    Replying to @henrycooke

    Before Google uses the account recovery email address, you have to verify said account recovery email in the first place… So Jordan Williams would have verified the email that would have come through when account recovery was first set up.

  11. phantom snowflake

     /  February 21, 2018

    GCSB‏ @GCSBIntercepts

    Some office debate about the proper spelling and pronunciation of Raquel, but we all agree that the “J” is silent. Very silent.