Labour fundraising in private clubs

Labour tried to make a big deal about some National fundraising, but they seem to be doing the same sort of thing, and are looking like they have been caught with their hands in the biscuit jar.

Stuff in 2014: Does Cabinet Club buy influence?

Party funding is back under the spotlight after two ministers ran into trouble over their links with wealthy donors amid revelations National operates a ‘Cabinet Club’ offering access to top ministers in exchange for cash.

Last week National’s $1000-plus Cabinet Club dinners were in the gun, though there were counter-accusations, laced with claims of hypocrisy, that Labour offered chinwags with MPs for $1250 a pop.

The Greens have had a couple of stabs at greater transparency. The first, through Sue Kedgley’s Lobbyists Register Bill, has lapsed. Now the Greens are pressing for a ministerial disclosure regime. Co-leader Dr Russel Norman estimates John Key had raised more than $1 million from his “club” appearances.

“John Key claims the Cabinet Club is part of the normal political donations process. Cash for access to the inner circle of the Government is not normal,” Norman said. “It is democracy for sale.”

National MP Tau Henare says the Left is trying to curb National’s fundraising ability because it is jealous National can raise more. And National president Peter Goodfellow insists there is no quid pro quo for donations.

Newshub in April 2017: Labour launches exclusive ‘President’s Club’

The Labour Party has launched an exclusive secret society called The President’s Club for those who donate big bucks to the party.

It opened for business two weeks ago, with the primary role of luring in big cheques from wealthy Labour supporters.

It’s Labour’s version of National’s Cabinet Club, which sees exorbitantly-priced tickets sold for exclusive dinners attended by Cabinet ministers of the Crown.

Labour president Nigel Haworth says The President’s Club differs from Cabinet Club because Labour MPs aren’t involved, and aren’t used to lure in donations in exchange for access.

But Labour are charging big bucks, and using Ministers as an attraction. Stuff yesterday: Labour hosts business and lobbyists at $600-a-head dinners in exclusive private clubs

Finance Minister Grant Robertson gave a post-Budget speech at a $600-a-head Labour fundraiser at the exclusive Wellington Club, drawing comparisons to the previous National Government’s “Cabinet club” scandal.

According to several attendees, about 40 people, including party supporters, business figures and corporate lobbyists, attended the dinner hosted by Labour president Nigel Haworth on Wednesday, at which Robertson was the key

The Cabinet manual states: “holding ministerial office is regarded as a full-time occupation and is remunerated as such. Accordingly … accepting additional payment for doing anything that could be regarded as a ministerial function is not permissible”.

This means that if Robertson was attending in his ministerial capacity, rather than as an MP, Labour would be unable to use the event as a fundraiser.

Labour dance on the head of an MP pin…

…but get pinged for it.

6 Comments

  1. Gezza

     /  June 8, 2018

    Stuff 2014
    Last week National’s $1000-plus Cabinet Club dinners were in the gun, though there were counter-accusations, laced with claims of hypocrisy, that Labour offered chinwags with MPs for $1250 a pop.

    Stuff 2018
    Finance Minister Grant Robertson gave a post-Budget speech at a $600-a-head Labour fundraiser at the exclusive Wellington Club

    To be fair, Labour’s charges seem more reasonable these days?

    • High Flying Duck

       /  June 8, 2018

      Or just reflective of Robertson’s pulling power.

      • Blazer

         /  June 8, 2018

        ‘pulling power’….a feature of RWNJ’s…I put it down to…..boarding schools.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  June 8, 2018

          I’d pay $600 NOT to hear him and more not to hear Ms Ardern and Auntie Winnie, but don’t see anything wrong with this sort of fundraising as long as it’s open.

  2. Gezza

     /  June 8, 2018

    Prime Minister says fundraiser where ‘Finance Minister’ was guest did not breach Cabinet rules

    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern maintains a Labour Party fundraiser did not breach Cabinet manual rules, despite billing the event as a post-Budget speech with the Finance Minister.

    After refusing to comment at all on Thursday, Ardern’s office confirmed it had sought advice from the Cabinet Office on the matter on Friday.

    “The conclusion of the advice is that while it is preferable if Minister are described in invitations to these events in their party political terms, it is not required or a breach of the rules,” a spokesman said.

    National leader Simon Bridges said the wording of the invitation made it appear Robertson was not at the event in a private capacity.

    “On the face of that invitation, it looks clear that Mr Robertson has attended as Minister of Finance, not just as a Member of Parliament. That may well be a breach of the Cabinet manual and I think the Prime Minister needs to explain.

    National endured many questions over its fundraising meetings. Called “Cabinet club”, the party is believed to have held dozens of meetings where subscribers were promised meetings with ministers in small groups.

    Bridges said he was “certainly not aware” of any instances where the National Party had never referred to MPs by their ministerial positions in invitations to Cabinet club events. (WTF does that mean?)

    “[Labour] had a very clear position on it and understood the rules [in Opposition],” Bridges said.

    In a short email, Haworth maintained the events were normal, the same as other parties had done.

    “This event was no different from what all political parties have done on many occasions for decades.”

    He claimed the event did not breach any rules, including Cabinet manual rules.

    “This fundraiser was completely above board. It did not breach any donation or Cabinet Manual rules,” Haworth said. As party president he has no role in determining breaches of Cabinet rules.

    ‘The Greens would not do this’

    Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson said she had registered a concern with Labour and wanted assurances that the events did not represent cash-for-access.

    “We don’t think it’s a good look. The Greens would not do this ourselves, a high-end fundraiser that I guess hangs on access to a minister present.”

    While fundraising was essential for all parties, the Green Party said it had focused on events which were affordable to most of its constituency.

    “We’ve long pushed to get big money out of politics, so this is not something that the Greens would do.”

    Davidson said there appeared to be “a slight difference” to National’s Cabinet club, a high end subscription membership which guaranteed access to Cabinet ministers.

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/104568491/prime-minister-says-fundraiser-where-finance-minister-was-guest-did-not-breach-cabinet-rules

    Very messy. :/

  3. $600!! More dollars than sense.