Who leaked, and was there an accomplice?

It appears that most people assume that Jami-Lee Ross is lying when he denies the leak of Simon Bridges’ expenses that set off the spiralling saga that resulted in chaos this week.

What if Ross is right about this (he has misled and lied about other things)? It would be hard to imagine that there was a completely unrelated leaker involved, especially as Ross has admitted leaking subsequent information.

So a likely answer is that Ross had an accomplice. Someone else may have done the actual leaking of Bridges’ expenses – however this does not rule out the possibility that Ross supplied them with the information.

Tova O’Brien at Newshub reported on the initial leak so will know who provided her with the information, so it’s worth looking to Newshub coverage.

Newshub (20 October) – The Jami-Lee Ross and expenses leak mega-scandal: A timeline

August 13 – Newshub reveals Simon Bridges’ expenses a few days before they were due to be made public.

August 14 – Simon Bridges says he’s confident the source of the leak isn’t anyone in the National Party. He calls for an independent review.

If Ross used a proxy leaker then this may technically be correct.

August 16 – Mr Bridges, Speaker Trevor Mallard and Newshub political editor Tova O’Brien receive a text message from the leaker asking for the inquiry to be called off as they’re suffering from a “prolonged mental illness”. The sender also claims to be a member of the National Party caucus. None of this is reported until a week later.

The sender is apparently Ross, but has at least implied he was acting on someone else’s behalf. This in turn implies that he knows who the leaker was.

August 18 – Right-wing blogger Cameron Slater says there is “back channel chatter” the leaker is a member of the National Party caucus. He doesn’t name names.

What Slater claims has to be treated with caution. He likes to big note and tries to sound like he is deeply involved in action, but often just hints and often doesn’t front up with evidence.

Coincidentally perhaps Slater is known to be suffering from a “prolonged mental illness”.

September 15 – Simon Bridges says if it turns out an MP leaked his expenses, he wouldn’t necessarily sack them. He said he’d be “incredibly disappointed” if it turned out to be a National MP or staffer, but it wasn’t “worth getting too hung-up on”.

September 19 – Winston Peters tells Parliament everyone there already knows who the leaker is, while looking at Jami-Lee Ross’ vacant seat.

What Peters claims has to be treated with caution. He often makes accusations and insinuations without fronting upo with evidence.

He said if Simon Bridges doesn’t tell the public who the leaker is, he will. Blogger Cameron Slater says MPs and “well-informed” journalists know who the leaker is, as they’re being “shunned by caucus”.

As is common with Peters he didn’ back up his bluster – but it’s interesting that both Slater and Peters are making similar claims they know the leaker’s identity. More about this in another post.

September 30 – Winston Peters uses his platform at NZ First’s 25th anniversary celebrations to say Simon Bridges will be rolled as National Party leader before the 2020 election.

So, did Peters know that Ross was involved in what looks like an elaborate plan (that included Ross recording conversations with Bridges at least as far back as May, where Ross appears to try to entrap Bridges) to discredit Bridges and force him out of the leadership?

October 2 – Simon Bridges announces Jami-Lee Ross will be stepping down from the National Party front bench and taking leave from Parliament to deal with some personal health issues. Mr Bridges says it has nothing to do with the expenses inquiry.

October 4 – Jami-Lee Ross is reportedly “pissed off” with Simon Bridges for calling his problems “embarrassing”

October 15 – One of the most intense weeks in New Zealand political history begins with The AM Show’s Duncan Garner confronting Simon Bridges with a fresh set of leaks.

Later that day, right before Mr Bridges was due to reveal the inquiry’s findings, Mr Ross launches a pre-emptive attack on Twitter. He said he and the National leader had a falling out, denied being the leaker and accused Mr Bridges of breaking the law.

Mr Bridges minutes later says the inquiry had found Mr Ross was the likely leaker.

Also from Newshub yesterday: The ultimate guide to all the players in the Jami-Lee Ross vs Simon Bridges showdown

The headline says ‘all the players’, but the article states:

Here are the main players in the continuing saga.

One could assume that the original leaker was a ‘main player’.

Jami-Lee Ross – former National MP for Botany

That’s an odd description. Ross is a former National MP but he is still the MP for Botany (now an independent MP).

Minutes before his leader was to address media and out Mr Ross as the alleged leaker of his expenses, Mr Ross sent a series of tweets accusing Mr Bridges of falsely pinning blame on him.

Other ‘main players’ mention include Ross of course plus Simon Bridges, Paula Bennett, and Simon Lusk could be a main player. It is still not clear if Winston Peters is a main player.

There are a number of others named who seem far from being main players – National MPs Todd McClay Maureen Pugh, Judith Collins and Mark Mitchell.

Also named are Peter Goodfellow (National Party president), Greg Hamilton (National Party general manager), Aaron Bhatnagar, Zhang Yikun, and June Brigg (Pugh’s mother). They were only involved after accusations by Ross of donation problems and the release of a recording. I don’t think there is any suspicion that Pugh’s mum was the leaker.

There is no mention of any association with ‘leaker’ other than Ross.

Stuff in Personal and professional pain: Widening repercussions for MP Jami-Lee Ross

One long week later, Ross still emphatically denies he was the leaker.

​The person who started it all may still be out there – and if so, that person is probably looking on absolutely incredulous.

Maybe, maybe not. Few people seem to trust Ross, and most seem to now assume that he was the leaker despite his denials. If he got someone to do the dirty work for him to create some sort of ‘plausible denial’ it may be immaterial in the whole scheme of things.

The investigation that Bridges insisted on says that ‘on the balance of probabilities’ it looks like Ross was the leaker.

If not he was at least likely to have been involved.

While Cameron Slater is notoriously unreliable with what he claims, he has repeated a number of times he has known that Ross was ‘the leaker’ – like “He’s the leaker. Just accept that. I’ve known for months. The report confirms precisely what I have known.”

In any case, while the initial leak precipitated this chain of events it was not a big deal. What has become the big deal is Ross’ obvious big play to discredit and depose Bridges, and to cause as much mayhem and damage for National that he can.

Whether Ross leaked the expenses or not, whether he leaked them too someone who leaked them, is not important now.

What is important is that Ross appears to have been planning an attack on Bridges and National for months, and the leak was just used as a way of trying to precipitate chaos.

 

Leave a comment

30 Comments

  1. robertguyton

     /  October 21, 2018

    As I said here days ago. Got lambasted.

    Reply
    • Zedd

       /  October 21, 2018

      tautoko RG

      It seems that the Natl party are trying to distract the public, by pushing all ‘the blame’ on J-L Ross. Meanwhile the issue about $100k donation (reporting) & Bridges expenses ‘issues’ are being constantly sidelined !

      Reply
    • Zedd

       /  October 21, 2018

      I just watched ‘Marae’ on TV1; commentators (inc. ex-Nat MPs) agree that this has distracted from the real issues, around the large donation & expenses issues.. perhaps deliberately ?

      Reply
      • PartisanZ

         /  October 21, 2018

        No “perhaps” about it Zedd!

        Time to bombard MPs with emails and messages demanding a Commission of Inquiry into election-funding, electoral fraud and recommending possible electoral law reforms …

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  October 21, 2018

          Why do that when we can just have another werkinggruppe? Nobody would notice another one tagged on to the end of the list and we can maybe even use some of the same people at a cut rate to save money?

          Reply
  2. Gerrit

     /  October 21, 2018

    As I said here yesterday. Ross was the agent that went rogue on his handlers.

    The timing is out to inflict maximum damage to the National party at the run up to the 2020 elections (my guess is to disgrace National and thus get conservative National voters to vote NZFirst and progressive National voters to vote Labour) .

    Ross was going to be the agent provocateur in 12 to 18 months time but somehow National got wind of this (probably because he made a mistake and leaked what was essentially worthless travel expenditure information) and sidelined Ross quick smart. Ross’s infidelities with a sitting MP were not helping his or his handlers cause as it gave National a perfect excuse to sideline him.

    Ross has an ace and that is he knows who his handlers are so could quite easily turn on them.

    We are all going to need a lot of popcorn to watch the entertainment as Ross in parliament firsts gets into National and when that cause is spent, he turns on his handlers.

    Reply
  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  October 21, 2018

    Could be Lusk otherwise hard to see how it isn’t Ross.

    Reply
    • He doesn’t seem to have any friends in the National caucus who might have done it.

      He seems to have few fiends in his staff either, it’s unlikely any of them would have taken risks for him.

      So there are not many to chose from if it wasn’t him.

      Reply
  4. Blazer

     /  October 21, 2018

    His wife is a possibility.
    Seems to have escaped her wrath a bit too conveniently.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  October 21, 2018

      We don’t know if he’s escaped her wrath. Time will tell. It’s their children I feel sorry for. This sort of stuff rips kids up.

      Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  October 21, 2018

      That’s not what is reported today – living apart.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  October 21, 2018

        Reported where?

        Reply
        • At the epicentre is beleaguered MP Jami-Lee Ross. He has already lost his friendship with Bridges, his extramarital affair with another MP and allegations of sexual harassment and bullying have been exposed, and now he is understood to be living apart from his wife, fellow politician Lucy Schwaner.

          https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/107995476/personal-and-professional-pain-widening-repercussions-for-mp-jamilee-ross

          I think that’s a fairly believable outcome.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  October 21, 2018

            Thanks PG. I googled and was just about to post that same link.

            (Christ Sir Alan’s a lazy blighter. Somebody should tell him. I suppose I’ll have to, as usual.)

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  October 21, 2018

              Just believe me when I tell you something, Sir Gerald. It saves us all time.

            • Gezza

               /  October 21, 2018

              Don’t be ridiculous. That sort of comment automatically requires the full gory details.

            • Gezza

               /  October 21, 2018

              Oh dear. How embarrassing. I see that’s the article PG already posted in his post. Fulsome apologies Sir Alan. I of course blame robert for distracting me on Open Forum.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  October 21, 2018

              Fulsome means cloying, insincere and overdone (looks over reading glasses at Gezza)

              I pity the children, too, any marriage breakup is terrible for the children, and such a public one must be ghastly. Thank goodness Ross is a fairly common name.

            • Gezza

               /  October 21, 2018

              Fulsome
              adjective
              1. complimentary or flattering to an excessive degree.
              “the press are embarrassingly fulsome in their appreciation”
              synonyms: enthusiastic, ample, profuse, extensive, generous, liberal, lavish, glowing, gushing, gushy
              2. of large size or quantity; generous or abundant.

              (In the horrific circumstances which unfolded, I thought, before anyone had a chance to point out that I had obviously been too lazy to read the same link already there in PG’s topic post, a very generous dollop of apologies coupled with blaming robert might suffice to distract attention away from my sheer bloody hypocrisy. Say nothing more Kitty: I might still get away with it.)

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  October 21, 2018

              Don’t spoil Sir Gerald’s grovelling, Kitty. It’s a sight to warm your heart.

            • Gezza

               /  October 21, 2018

              I am greatly heartened, nonetheless, by the number of upticks I have received for my observation: “Christ Sir Alan’s a lazy blighter”, Sir Alan.

              I shall say no more.

  5. duperez

     /  October 21, 2018

    “The leak was used just as a way of trying to precipitate chaos.”

    What do you reckon? A bit like the Winston Peters’ personal stuff before the election?

    Stuff leaks out of a caucus it’s the end of the world.

    Absolutely private personal information which should be untouchable, gets into the hands of a very select few and is splashed in the headlines. Nothing to see here, let’s move on.

    Reply
    • In this case aa benign leak seems to have been used to precipitate chaos including escalating to releasing personal private personal information.

      Ross introducing the topic of harassment – I’m fairly sure he was the first one who brought that up – is very similar to what some numpties (with Slater involved) have tried to do here to entrap me – they out themselves and them try to switch the blame for releasing private details.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  October 21, 2018

        The thing that I can’t understand is why someone would bother to leak something that will soon be made public, anyway.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  October 21, 2018

          Auntie Winnie’s case was quite different.

          He was carelessly signing legal documents without reading them; even I know not to do that. He later said that he signed parliamentary ones without reading them first, which is appallingly sloppy. If I had ever voted for him, I would’t have done so again. Who wants an MP who doesn’t read what they sign, still less a deputy PM?

          Reply
          • duperez

             /  October 21, 2018

            Yes, why would anyone vote for someone who’d release confidential private information?

            If Peters was careless with his MSD papers he was careless. We don’t know it was intentional, deliberate. Arrangements were made to repay so I guess intent wasn’t concluded or there was no basis to proceed on the grounds of that notion.

            The Ministry of Social Development, the department that employs Beehive staff and the IRD, couldn’t identify any staff who had the Peters’ information who leaked it.

            The information was given to a group of Ministers. Now, who were the Ministers involved? The case didn’t match PG’s label of benign, it was simply malignant.

            The Ross news explosion will subside and die and there’ll probably be some minor residual affects. Any residual affects from the Peters episode? Hell yes, and likely a lot more substantial than those from the latest brouhaha.

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  October 21, 2018

              It’s incredibly stupid to sign documents without reading them, and he said on camera that he did this with parliament ones ! The old fool could be signing anything. I couldn’t believe that anyone could be so stupid. If he wants to sign his pension papers without looking, that’s his lookout, but official documents??? Who would sign those without looking?

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  October 22, 2018

              I have always understood that one doesn’t sign anything without reading it.

              ‘This is my last will and testament. I lesve everything to Kitty Catkin.’

              signed Winston Peters

  6. Gezza

     /  October 21, 2018

    they out themselves and them try to switch the blame for releasing private details
    Classic psychopathic trait from some reading I was doing last night.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  October 21, 2018

      When our dear friend Tom fell foul of The Bitch from Hell, I looked these things up and did a little study of them. Classic sociopathy and narcissism, the BFH could have been used as a the archetypal example.

      Nothing was the BFH’s fault, ever. If she was challenged in any way, it was greeted with a full on attack. ‘I am a very devout Christian lady.’ was one of her sayings. Of course she was none of these things. Anyone who is doesn’t need to say it.

      Reply

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