Bridges-Ross-National gets messier

Simon Bridges was already struggling with the leak issue. This morning Duncan Garner confronted him with another leak, this time over incorrectly filed donations. Bridges set up a press conference for 1 pm and Jami-Lee Ross pre-empted that with a series of tweets, claiming he had an incriminating secret recording with of Bridges.

In reverse order:

At the media conference Bridges said the leak investigation found that on the balance of probabilities Ross was the leaker (and it looks that way). His official statement:

Statement on National Party Leak Inquiry

Earlier today I received the independent report from PwC on their investigation into the recent leak of the National Party’s travel expenses.

The report states that the evidence identified points to Jami Lee Ross as being the person who sent the anonymous text message.

I am releasing the report today.

John Billington QC has independently assessed the investigation report. It is his opinion that on the balance of probabilities the evidence establishes that Jami-Lee Ross was the person who leaked the expenses and the sender of the text message.

I accept both the investigation report and the opinion of Mr Billington.

Earlier today I visited Jami-Lee Ross with Paula Bennett and explained to him the report and the opinion of Mr Billington and gave him an opportunity to respond. I was not satisfied with his explanation.

I also discussed with Jami-Lee other matters concerning his conduct that have come to my attention and suggest, together with the leak, a pattern.

I informed Jami-Lee that tomorrow the investigation report and Mr Billington’s opinion will be presented at a meeting of the National Party Caucus along with the other matters.

The Caucus will be asked to consider all relevant matters, including his membership of the Caucus.

Finally, you will recall Jami-Lee recently took leave from Parliament given personal health issues.

This action today is completely separate. I did not know what the investigation report would contain when those matters were addressed in recent weeks.

Today I have taken steps to ensure that Jami-Lee has the necessary support around him at this time.

The step that I have taken today is not made lightly. I am balancing the health issues with the considerable public interest in the outcome of the investigation.

The report is here: http://img.scoop.co.nz/media/pdfs/1810/PWC_Investigation_Report_into_National_Leak.pdf

Media are reporting there have been other complaints about Ross.

Ross is now clearly done as a politician, no party would trust him after this.

Bridges is also on even shakier ground than before as National leader, Much may depend on how he deals with this tomorrow at and after National’s caucus meeting.

65 Comments

  1. robertguyton

     /  October 15, 2018

    “I confronted him with evidence that I had recorded him…”
    Oh, dear!

  2. robertguyton

     /  October 15, 2018

    National: gone to the pack.

    • Corky

       /  October 15, 2018

      Don’t put the election before the cart just yet, Robert.

  3. Blazer

     /  October 15, 2018

    Ross standing for..ACT in byelection.

  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  October 15, 2018

    Ross – gone by lunchtime. Simon will be looking decisive so I don’t see it being negative for him but actually vindicates his enquiry.

    • Blazer

       /  October 15, 2018

      vindicates his expertise in body language gained as a prosecutor…um…oh hang on!Bol.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  October 15, 2018

        Science has shown justice professionals are no better at detecting liars than anyone else. Any more squrrels?

        • robertguyton

           /  October 15, 2018

          This debacle has shown that scientists are no better at detecting liars than anyone else. Squrrels? Is that a Bennettism?

        • Gezza

           /  October 15, 2018

          Simon will be looking decisive so I don’t see it being negative for him but actually vindicates his enquiry.

          No he won’t. He isn’t. That was a big part of his problem before this all blew up & just added to his image problems. He’s only got to open his mouth to put people off.

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  October 15, 2018

            Didn’t tonight. He looked sensible dealing with a nutter.

            • Gezza

               /  October 15, 2018

              He looked & sounded the same as usual to me. Now I’m waiting to see if Ross releases any recording(s) as threatened. He’s poison to the Party now. He might decide he’s got nothing to lose & he obviously has a nasty streak.

    • artcroft

       /  October 15, 2018

      Agreed. The inquiry had to occur because Ross would have continued to undermine Bridges. Contrast the way Shaw is allowing himself to be neutered by Genter and Davidson. Sad.

      • robertguyton

         /  October 15, 2018

        Yeah, the Shaw case – tragic! This Bridges/Ross thingy is a mere trifle by comparison, with THE SHAW THING!!!

    • robertguyton

       /  October 15, 2018

      Simon’s been accused of unlawful behaviour by one of his own team…and you don’t see it being negative for him?
      Help me, Jesus!

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  October 15, 2018

        It won’t be by one of his own team tomorrow. He will be seen as having identified and got rid of a nutter. Just as the Greens are seen as being full of them.

        • duperez

           /  October 15, 2018

          Do nutters sometimes tell the truth?

        • robertguyton

           /  October 15, 2018

          Your random pot-shotting indicates you’re under some considerable duress, Alan.
          That person you are calling a nutter was National’s Senior Whip and long-time MP. That will have everyone looking sideways at the remaining Nat MPs, wondering…wondering…

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  October 15, 2018

            Not random, Robert. You are not collateral damage, just taken out by return fire.

            The person I am calling a nutter has just behaved like a nutter. I call it as I see it.

    • Gezza

       /  October 15, 2018

      Ross’s claims about the donations is potentially a major problem for Simon. It depends whether Ross actually HAS got recordings, and if so whether he will release them or just bow out quietly.

      The National Party & colleagues are going to rip Ross to shreds; they can’t do anything else. Any party in this situation would do it.

      They’re both toast though. Bridges is irreparably damaged by this whole affair. I don’t believe him that he hasn’t known who it is for some time. It’s been almost a certainty in most people’s minds (including mine) ever since Ross went on long leave suffering from a severely embarrassing problem that he’s been the obvious culprit.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  October 15, 2018

        Obviously Bridges got the report and then had a QC review it to support his intention to act on it. So he has known for a short time. I don’t see any of that as a problem. Looks as though he has neutralised Ross’s blackmail tactic by preempting release of the donation issue as well.

    • Gezza

       /  October 15, 2018

  5. robertguyton

     /  October 15, 2018

    Jami-Lee Ross: “When I started to become expendable, I confronted him with evidence that I had recorded him discussing with me unlawful activity that he was involved in. Working on his instruction, he asked me to do things with election donations that broke the law.”

    “Which is presumably related to this morning’s revelations about a “clerical error” around donations. But if its more than that, and Ross does in fact have such recordings, he should release them. Because sitting on solid evidence of unlawful activities and corrupt electoral practices by a politician, presumably as “insurance” or “leverage”, is not just unethical, but also being an accessory after the fact.”
    Posted by Idiot/Savant

  6. Trevors_Elbow

     /  October 15, 2018

    Bridges is done. He handled this poorly and has gone with a balance of probabilities to oust a rival for the Leadership. He cant be trusted by his caucus. So bye bye to them both.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  October 15, 2018

      Don’t agree. Seems pretty clear it was Ross and now he is lying about his guilt. That will totally disqualify him as a potential leader in most people’s eyes. I don’t see evidence Bridges is not trusted by his caucus at present and expect the vote tomorrow will settle that question.

      • Trevors_Elbow

         /  October 15, 2018

        the worm is in the wood….. Bridges is done… just a question of when. Cant see him winning an election…

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  October 15, 2018

          That’s a different question. He was headed for the exit before this happened but in my opinion this affair could strengthen his position and is unlikely to weaken it.

          • Trevors_Elbow

             /  October 15, 2018

            I don’t think so Alan…. I was in that caucus I would be looking at Bridges and thinking this should never have happened – never. They should have stayed scthum and mounted a private investigation… talking to the media about internal matters is never clever it always backfires. Political management zero….

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  October 15, 2018

              They could never throw Ross out of the party and Parliament without it becoming public. Since he was lying about what he was doing they couldn’t nail him without an investigation either. When you look at his background you can see the potential for trouble.

            • Gezza

               /  October 15, 2018

              When you look at his background you can see the potential for trouble.
              Are you referring to his Mrs’s disgraceful behaviour, or what, exactly?

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  October 15, 2018

              Never met his father. Studied politics. Got into it ridiculously young.

  7. Blazer

     /  October 15, 2018

    Ross may have to get a real job…doubt he’s ever had ..one.

    • robertguyton

       /  October 15, 2018

      Maggie’s widely admired for her kind-heartedness.

  8. duperez

     /  October 15, 2018

    The Taxpayers’ Union will go spare if there has to be a by-election. Money wasted on an event that should have been unnecessary except for the handling of things by Bridges. There’ll be the press releases and the usual sort of symbolic press stunt.

    Just kidding, there won’t be some sort of effort they mounted when Ross’ wife cost the ratepayers $104,000 with her fit of pique after resigning within minutes of being sworn in on the Howick Local Board in 2016. They did didn’t they?

    • Gezza

       /  October 15, 2018

      Fascinating:

      “Auckland ratepayers face a bill of more than $100,000 to replace a local board member who quit minutes after being sworn-in. Lucy Schwaner [Jami-Lee Ross’s wife] resigned almost immediately after losing a vote, 5-4, to become the chair of the Howick Local Board, onto which she had earlier been elected.

      Ms Schwaner took out a full-page local newspaper advertisement outlining why she felt unable to continue under the chair elected David Collings, a member of the same ticket, Vision and Voice.

      She wrote she was “forced to resign”, and outlined lengthy criticism of Mr Collings’ past chairing of the board. “It is because of the unprofessional and seemingly poisonous environment that has developed, as well as the groundswell of negative feedback from local organisations, that we sought to make much-needed change,” she wrote in the Eastern Courier ad.
      More…
      https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/318287/board-member-who-quit-within-minutes-costs-akl-$100k

  9. robertguyton

     /  October 15, 2018

    David Farrar says:
    “This is a sad and bad day for National. For a decade or more National has had formidable internal discipline. But this sort of stuff is unforgiveable as it turns the public off big time. It is selfish in the extreme to publicly undermine the elected leader. If you don’t like whom your colleagues choose to be leader, you either put up with it, or you quietly do the numbers to roll them. What you don’t do is leak against them. “

  10. National’s Judith Collins told Andrew Dickens she is sticking by her party leader.

    “If someone thinks they have some evidence, they should put up or shut up.”

    • Corky

       /  October 15, 2018

      Agreed. The mana of National, and Bridges, and Ross will depend on evidence presented, or not presented. Someone is lying.

      • Corky

         /  October 15, 2018

        Paula needs to be on standby just in case hard evidence turns up in the hands of media.

    • Gezza

       /  October 15, 2018

      They’ve certainly chosen an interesting photo. One would have expected a serious-faced one if ZB were more kind to Simon.

  11. That’s stating the obvious.

    The only unknowns are how long it will take for him to be dumped (he could try to hold on to his electorate until the election but that would be disgraceful if he does), and how much damage he will inflict before he goes and after he goes.

  12. robertguyton

     /  October 15, 2018

    Yvette

    “If Jami-Lee Ross is correct in denying he was the expenses leaker and texter, and waives his privacy as far as the Police are concerned, they will be able to confirm then that he is not the person they identified nor has he been provided the ‘wrap-around’ care arranged by the Police – in the same way that Police voluntarily, and uninvited, afforded a statement on Clarke Gayford, in attempting to allay rumours about him.

    The Police need not actually identify the person, but at Ross’s request should confirm it was not him, if indeed what Ross claims is true.”

  13. robertguyton

     /  October 15, 2018

    “MCos

    “Regardless of who’s right.
    When the leak initially occurred Bridges was flailing round blaming Labour and then the speaker. Gerry was huffing & puffing about left wing duplicity.
    Turns out the speaker was correct all along when he said it was an internal Nat issue, but he was still aware enough to clear his crew in case Bridges’s inquiry was inconclusive.”

  14. Kitty Catkin

     /  October 15, 2018

    The old cliche about things being a nine day wonder is true and likely to be so here.

    When one looks back, nine days is about right for the time these events are talked and thought about.

  15. robertguyton

     /  October 15, 2018

    Why do National Party MPs behave this’a’way? I’m thinking too, of Todd Barclay.

    • Blazer

       /  October 15, 2018

      the key players in National are like in Muldoons times…’the Young Turkeys’.

  16. Strong For Life

     /  October 15, 2018

    Jamie-Lee Ross seems to be suffering from a mental health issue with his irrational behaviour.

    • robertguyton

       /  October 15, 2018

      Craig Glen Eden 59 said:
      “What a mess. So according to Bridges, Jamie-Ross was unwell so he goes on sick leave. Now the National caucus is going to discuss the sick guys position in the National Oposition. But hang on isn’t he sick and has personal issues? Like wasn’t that the reason he was put on sick leave? Gee so either Bridges was lying about Jami-Lee having issues or National are really mean and kicking a sick guy when he is down. Either way Bridges and National are stuffed. Imagine being a National MP and needing sick leave in the future. 🔥🔥”

  17. Gezza

     /  October 15, 2018

    Quite a good summary:

    Power Play – The political career of National’s MP for Botany Jami-Lee Ross is almost certainly over and he’s looking to take leader Simon Bridges down with him.

    Mr Bridges has already been under pressure for his leadership, pressure that will not be alleviated by today’s events.

    MPs will gather at Parliament tomorrow to decide Mr Ross’ fate; Mr Bridges has already put suspension on the table but expulsion from the caucus altogether is a very real possibility.

    There could have been a road back for Mr Ross based on the findings of the report alone but his outburst on Twitter, accusing his leader of forcing him out on medical leave and of unlawful behaviour (which Mr Bridges denies), would make it untenable for him to stay in the caucus under the current leadership.

    The most immediate consequence will be the caucus meeting tomorrow where MPs will decide Mr Ross’s fate, and the indications from senior MPs are already that he will find little mercy in the caucus room.

    MPs are likely to rally around Mr Bridges after such an extraordinary attack on his leadership but once the dust settles there will be further scrutiny of his calling of the inquiry in the first place, and the way he has handled events since then.

    https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/on-the-inside/368728/power-play-jami-lee-ross-looking-to-take-simon-bridges-down-with-him

  18. duperez

     /  October 15, 2018

    I saw reference somewhere to the Judith Collins’ response. To the affect of it being funny that on the day she comes out with ‘put up, or shut up’ someone had already said that Collins ‘put him up’ to it. 🙃

  1. Bridges-Ross-National gets messier — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition