McCarten and the intern scheme donor

When Labour’s intern scheme story broke in June it was reported that the scheme had been funded by one large donor.

Stuff: Two on Labour’s intern programme may have broken immigration rules as council member stands down

McCarten’s original plan was to have union funding, but it seems that was not forthcoming.

A big donor did back the plan, but their identity has not been released to the party or to the public.

Little said the party had disclosure obligations, both in terms of donors and spending. The party was dealing with that.

Little said the party had a moral responsibility to look after creditors and suppliers because there was the “potential” for a shortfall in funding raised for the intern scheme.

NZH: Mystery funder behind Labour intern programme – and party doesn’t know who

A mystery backer funded the volunteer scheme for overseas students working on Labour’s campaign – and even Labour does not know who it was or how much was involved.

Matt McCarten, who set up the scheme and ran it under his “Campaign for Change” organisation, told the Herald it was funded by a “private funder” who thought the scheme was a good idea.

McCarten’s confirmation of a “private funder” followed the release of a document obtained by Newshub which showed McCarten expected it to cost at least $150,000 and planned to get $100,000 from the FIRST and Unite unions, as well as seeking contributions from other unions and fundraising.

However, those unions said yesterday they had not put any funding in.

Labour leader Andrew Little said the party would disclose anything it was required to and would ensure third parties did as well. However, the party was still working out what funding there was in place.

At the time this sounded like avoidance from Labour (and it was successful avoidance). It should have been a simple matter of asking McCarten how the scheme had been funded to that stage.

The Herald also quoted Mike Treen, the Unite union’s National Director:

Treen said the union had taken part in the programme and planned to use the interns for a programme to enrol Unite members, but had not provided any direct funding.

No ‘direct funding’ is a curious reference.

David Farrar wrote to the Electoral Commission asking them to investigate the donation and funding. He published their response last week on Kiwiblog:  Electoral Commission rules Campaign for Change counts as Labour candidate donations

The Electoral Commission has investigated the Campaign for Change and made the following determinations:

  1. All funds spent by the Campaign for Change are Labour candidate donations and must be declared in returns after the election
  2. McCarten personally paid for the costs
  3. $65,095 was spent up until Labour formally took over
  4. The Campaign for Change was not a neutral enrolment exercise

McCarten had referred to a ‘private funder’, which clearly implies someone other than himself.

If McCarten was always the funder why did he mislead the public, and also apparently not divulge this to Labour?

This leaves questions unanswered.

Was there a private funder who backed out when the scheme became public and it looked likely the funder would be named as a donor?

Did McCarten donate with his own money? Or was it an indirect donation, with money given to him by ‘a private benefactor’, and then he handed that over to Labour?

Does it matter?

Labour seem finished with their use of McCarten’s services, and so they should be. He was always a high risk to them. McCarten must now surely be seen as politically toxic by any party.

 

Campaign for Change counts as Labour donations

David Farrar has received a letter from the Electoral Commission that says that donations for the controversial Matt McCarten concocted ‘Campaign for Change’ that involved international interns count as candidate donations.

McCarten had claimed the campaign was to be funded by a large donor but he is named as the large donor.

Kiwiblog:  Electoral Commission rules Campaign for Change counts as Labour candidate donations

The Electoral Commission has investigated the Campaign for Change and made the following determinations:

  1. All funds spent by the Campaign for Change are Labour candidate donations and must be declared in returns after the election
  2. McCarten personally paid for the costs
  3. $65,095 was spent up until Labour formally took over
  4. The Campaign for Change was not a neutral enrolment exercise

The letter from the Electoral Commission is on the Kiwiblog post.

No word yet on whether there has been an inquiry in Parliament about McCarten working on a campaign while potentially paid as a staffer.

Clifton: post-mortem on the McCarten fiasco

This is one of the few attempts by anyone in media to have a good look at the Labour intern fiasco – a “post-mortem on Matt Mcarten fiasco” (and the Barclay fiasco) has just popped up on Noted after being in the Listener a couple of weeks ago.

Matt McCarten drove the scheme while working for Labour leader Andrew Little, then when things turned to custard he made a rapid exit, leaving Labour to try and clean up the mess.

At issue here was his grandiose scheme to bring nearly 100 young politics students to New Zealand to work for the Campaign for Change, a movement he has set up to motivate perennial non-voters and vote-shy youngsters to get to the ballot box.

Foreign volunteers typically pay their own way and get billeted. That was the deal for McCarten’s intern army. But the plan was both over-egged and underprepared: he didn’t have enough money committed to look after the students properly; many found their marae accommodation inadequate; some had the wrong visas; others felt they were being exploited; one couple even caught the next plane back home.

And just like National’s Barclay issue, the problem had hatched right under the party’s nose.

McCarten was hardly the covert field marshal. Since at least last Christmas, he’s been telling anyone in proximity how he saw his new job – “I’m gonna raise an army!” – and until recently, he was still in Labour’s part-time employ, while prepping the Campaign for Change.

Little tried to claim he knew virtually nothing about it, which seemed unlikely and still does.

That alone merited careful watching: electoral law and parliamentary funding rules mandate strict boundaries between such projects.

And while keeping an eye on that, party officials should have noticed that despite having been told Labour did not support his intern scheme, he was still doing it in Labour’s name. Anyone who has ever worked with McCarten knows very well that he’s congenitally incapable, when around a meeting table, of hearing the word “no” in so much as it might apply to him.

Yet somehow, he was left to carry on, plastering Labour’s brand and reputation all over a scheme that might have been tailor-made to contradict the party’s core messages. This is the Chinese-sounding-names fiasco to the power of 10.

From now on, anytime anyone mentions sub-standard housing, the living wage, student-visa manipulation, the perils of immigrant labour, exploitation of workers and dubious electoral expenses, Labour’s opponents will have this almighty compound hypocrisy stick with which to beat the party.

Labour will now have to be ultra-cautious they avoid anything that could give opponents a free shot on a number of issues.

Then there’s the ticklish matter of electoral law. McCarten part-funded the scheme with money from a donor whose identity and donation size he won’t disclose, even to Labour. The party risks being deemed to have benefited from that as electoral spending, though it did not want, authorise or control it. It was also misleading that McCarten used the term “fellowship” for the scheme, a term that connotes at least a quasi-formal tertiary-studies orientation, when it was nothing of the kind.

Now, Labour is morally obliged to reimburse the disaffected students’ expenses and pay for those still working here, which could badly dent its campaign war chest. Labour’s donors are entitled to be hopping mad that some of their money will be used not for campaigning but to mitigate McCarten’s folly. Lord only knows what the party will face if the scheme proves to have broken labour or visa rules.

Or electoral laws.

But the most damaging aspect of this affair is what it strobes about Labour’s competence to govern. If it can’t control one known excitable within its ranks, what chance would it have of wrangling New Zealand First and the Greens in a putative coalition?

Labour may think they have successfully kept this fiasco fairly well suppressed, but the media, and many left wingers, are more aware than they had been how shaky Labour’s competence looks.

For Labour, on the other hand, there may be no delay button. The polls are already suggesting that voters don’t think it’s ready to govern. The intern fiasco risks adding a big dump of concrete to the weight of that perception.

Labour avoided it blowing up into a festering public nuisance, thanks to much of the media which seemed to lack curiosity and interest – but this may have been in part because they had already given up on McCarten’s competence, and on Labour’s competence, and on Little’s competence, so didn’t see much point in hammering away at a coffin already in descent.

Unions using interns

The Labour Party got most of the limited attention given by the media to the intern issue. This is because it was clearly a Labour Party scheme – Andrew Kirton eventually acknowledged it was an ‘Auckland Labour Party’ scheme, but that isn’t a separate party.

But unions were intertwined.

Andrew Little has a union background but claims to have had no knowledge of the scheme, apart from hearing about the idea at the start of the year, and finding out an unauthorised scheme was  up and running in May, and then finding out in mid-June it had got out of control so he stepped in as soon as he knew. Or something.

Matt McCarten has been what someone described as a ‘voluntary scapegoat’. He certainly seems to have been a major player in the scheme, while working for Andrew Little in Auckland, while Little knew nothing about it apart from what he knew.

Before being recruited by David Cunliffe as the Labour leader’s chief of staff in 2014 McCarten was secretary of the Unite union since 2005.

Despite working for Labour for three years McCarten still seems to have kept his @unite.co.nz email address. He registered the movementforchange.org.nz domain using it on 15 May, when he was still working for Little. And he registered it under a Unite Union office address.

McCarten registered campaignforchange.org.nz five days later using Little’s Auckland office address (postal and physical).

Unions were a major part of the plans for financing the intern scheme. A document obtained by Newshub had details (this is claimed to be an unfulfilled plan):

LabourInternDocumentFinance

This refers to contracts with the Unite and First unions.

The project was said to be managed by “the project manager in paertnership with the Labour Party, CTU (Council of Trade Unions) and AUSA (Auckland University Students’ Association).

The document detailed three parts to the campaign:

LabourInternsManagement

So an aim was to recruit and support volunteers for union GOTV (get out the vote) campaigns. Unions were involved in trying to get votes for Labour last election too. I’m not sure that all their union members would be happy with that.

More on money:

LabourInternsMoney

But when this document was published unions distanced themselves. Newshub:  Labour’s botched intern scheme planned on union funding

Council of Trade Unions (CTU):

CTU national secretary Sam Huggard says the plan was never shared with them, and the CTU actually turned down a request to manage the interns.

“We’ve never seen this document and the CTU was not involved as described. I presume this was an early proposal document of some sort,” he told Newshub.

“Matt [McCarten] asked CTU to run the worker aspect of Campaign for Change on the 12th of May this year, but we declined.”

Note “the CTU was not involved as described”. That doesn’t rule out being involved, it leaves many possibilities.

The document describes “member recruitment contracts” with the Unite and First unions.

First Union:

Robert Reid, General Secretary of First Union, said it had not provided any funding: “There’d been discussions but no formal request.”

Unite Union:

Gerard Hehir, Secretary of Unite, said: “We had some discussions with Matt but there was no funding and no promises.”

Neither ruled out a contract or agreement for them to pay on recruitment results.

Despite Hehir’s statement there (that Newshub article was dated 23 June 2017) on the same day NZ Herald reported in Mystery funder behind Labour intern programme – and party doesn’t know who quotes Unite’s National Director Mike:

“Matt is ambitious, and where there is a will there is a way is often his attitude. He may have tried to reach too far in this case. We thought there were positives and are a little bit sorry to see it’s all fallen on its face.”

Treen said the union had taken part in the programme and planned to use the interns for a programme to enrol Unite members, but had not provided any direct funding.

So Unite and First both say there was no direct (up front) funding but Treen says Unite planned to use foreign students to recruit union members with the proceeds to be channelled into funding a Labour party election campaign.

Reid and Hehir may have been technically correct if they hadn’t yet handed over any money to Labour’s campaign.

This suggests a plan for unions to use foreign workers to recruit for them, with the bounty going to Labour, rather than using New Zealand workers earning wages for themselves.

Unite Union’s Mike Treen said unpaid interns were common around the world. “It’s stupid to call it ’employment.’ I know the difference between people being taken advantage of and volunteers and being looking to be political agents in the long term. It was probably a very useful experience for many.”

It may be common use to use unpaid interns to campaign for political parties, but is it common to use unpaid interns to work on union recruitment at the same time?

The document refers to Unite/First contracts to “recruit 800 additional members – $40,000”.  That’s $50 per recruited member.

This sounds like an odd campaign – targeting people trying to get them to vote for Labour and join a union at the same time.  It’s either just a crazy mixed up scheme, or it could be a way of trying disguise campaign donations to Labour as commission for services rendered – by foreign volunteers.

Andrew Little said “Somebody had an idea earlier this year that we could get some people down here from other parts of the world. It looks to me like it’s gotten wildly out of control and people have found they can’t manage it” – Intern scheme got ‘wildly out of control’ – Little.

McCarten’s plans as “fantasy world stuff” and an “embarrassment” – see McCarten may have left Labour in debt after intern scheme (27 June)

In this I think Little’s comments are credible. I can imagine he might have turned a blind eye to McCarten bringing in foreign interns to campaign for Labour, but I can’t imagine him or Labour’s head office agreeing to including union recruitment in the same scheme.

But the Labour Party in Auckland seems to have been very much involved in the scheme, possibly with some Little/Head Office plausible deniability distancing from  the machinations of the scheme.

Auckland Labour’s NZ Council representative Paul Chalmers (also with a union background) has “stood down” from his party responsibilities so the inference is that he was involved with McCarten and at least Treen on this.

A bad look for some Auckland unions and the Labour in Auckland at least.

There are plenty of questions still unanswered by Little and Kirton.

Labour interns – follow the money rumours

The Labour Party, with the help of an uninquisitive media, seems to have weathered the issue reasonably well – for now. They have managed to put off questions about McCarten and others campaigning while paid by Parliamentary services, and about the source of what has been intimated to be a substantial donor.

Kicking the can down the road will only spread out the story. There are inquiries pending both with the Privileges Committee and with the Electoral Commission.

David Farrar at Kiwiblog:  Electoral Commission letter re Campaign for Change

Below is a letter I sent to the Electoral Commission earlier this week. Labour often go on about the need for transparency over political donations, so I hope they will co-operate in determining who the mystery donor is.

The specific issues I wish the Electoral Commission to consider is whether the reported donation to the Campaign for Change should be regarded as a donation to Labour and if over $30,000 reported within 10 working days.

I also would like considered whether any of the expenses incurred by the Coalition for Change should be treated as expenses by Labour, if they fall within the regulated period.

A separate issue to this is any investigation by The Parliamentary Service into how Matt McCarten was setting this all up while employed by them.

Keeping Stock advises there is a separate investigation.

I lodged a complaint with the Speaker last week about the possible misuse of taxpayer funds by Labour. I have had a reply informing me that the complaint has been passed to the Parliamentary Service to investigate. I hope that investigation is comprehensive, and that Mr Little, the budget-holder is open and transparent about how a significant sum of public money has been spent.

I understand there may be multiple complaints being dealt with in Parliament.

Andrew Little and Andrew Kirton tried to limit the story to dealing with the complaints by the international students.

Labour have had the troops out with similar stories, like this from Willie Jackson (Labour list candidate) at The Daily Blog: GUEST BLOG: Willie Jackson – Compare Labour Intern ‘scandal’ with National’s week of lies

But what was actually true? It turns out that the vast majority of students had a great time, that only two Interns had complaints and that while one shower was broken, there were actually 8 showers at the Marae.

How did Labour handle it? They immediately moved in and took the internship over from my mate Matt McCarten and looked after every student. Labour Leader Andrew Little took responsibility for it, admitted the program had been too successful and hadn’t been able to grow quickly enough to sustain its goals of engaging young New Zealander’s with the democratic process.

While the story was overblown, Labour acknowledged that mistakes had been made and we immediately owned those mistakes and set about ensuring every student was looked after.

We need Politicians who aren’t afraid to admit mistakes and who move to fix those mistakes as soon as they become apparent, we don’t need politicians who tell us different stories that keep turning out to be false.

But Labour have not fixed the mistakes as soon as they became apparent. Andrew Little has admitted knowing about the ‘unauthorised scheme’ in May but said he only took action last week, in mid-June.

Both Little and Kirton ininitally tried to distance themselves and Labour from the scheme and the problems, but as details emerged it became obvious that Laboue was closely involved, and earlier this week Kirton conceded ‘Auckland Labour Party’ responsible for intern scheme.

With Labour’s avoidance of being forthright about the key issues – the student complaints were relatively minor, as was Labour’s hypocrisy – there has been speculation about the donor.

Stuff reported on Thursday:

McCarten’s original plan was to have union funding, but it seems that was not forthcoming.

A big donor did back the plan, but their identity has not been released to the party or to the public.

Little said the party had disclosure obligations, both in terms of donors and spending. The party was dealing with that.

Dealing with it slowly. Farrar:  Who is the mystery donor?

I believe the donation to the campaign was an effective donation to Labour and if over $15,000 (I hear it is well over $100,000) needs to be declared to the Electoral Commission.

The whisper I have heard is that the identity of the donor will cause huge embarrassment as the donor is an entity funded by the taxpayer to provide social services.

I look forward to Labour revealing who the donor is. It’s ridiculous to claim they don’t know when the entire campaign was run by Labour party staff and officers.

There are whispers around. I don’t know if they have some basis in reasonable suspicion or are just attempts to join some dots.

Ex National MP @tauhenare:

&John, I’ve heard a rumor and it’s only a rumor that (Waipareira and or MUMA) were the ones behind funding

… I hope it ain’t so, more shit on us if it’s true.

this needs to be a public condemnation of scurrilous rumours. Put it to bed immediately. If they don’t it hurts all Maori.

Ringing and texting apopo, will publically back them when they tell me straight up if ain’t them. I trust them to allay my fears.

Henare is referring to Te Whānau O Waipareira Trust and Manakau Urban Maori Authority. I’ll keep an eye on whether he gets a response.

I have heard them suggested as possible donors elsewhere. If they are not involved in the intern scheme then it’s unfair for them to be seen as linked.

I note that Willie Jackson is both the and Maori Campaign Director for Labour and “the chief executive for MUMA, chairman of the National Māori Radio Network – Te Whakaruruhau o Ngā Reo Irirangi Māori, and chairman of the National Urban Māori Authority.”

It would help if the Waipereira Trust and MUMA make statements on either their involvement or their lack of involvement.

It’s unfortunate they are in this position – if Labour were as open and honest and moral and as quick to take responsibility as they have claimed to be over this issue then they would have avoided this situation of uncertainty.

I think it really is Labour’s responsibility to clear this up urgently. Otherwise this could drag on into the election campaign and get very awkward for them.

 

 

 

 

Balance in the Newsroom?

Newsroom have been praised for their investigative journalism after a series of revelations and articles on the Todd Barclay issue.

Questions have also been raised over their possible collusion with a dirty politics campaign, seemingly not just designed on damaging Todd Barclay.

After he has lost his political career over it the attention turned to Bill English, who was placed a very difficult position by drip fed Newsroom revelations. English was strongly criticised for not being open about things, but there was a confidential employment agreement involved, and also a secret recording that it would have been illegal to reveal existed let alone the contents.

There was the potential to bring down English, bring down the Government, and swing the election (that could still be a consequence).

It is very important that media holds power to account, and holds elected people and Governments to account. But media have power of their own, and that also needs to be held to account.

Newsroom are an Auckland based media organisation. They must have put considerable resources into a story about as far from Auckland as you can get, in Clutha-Southland.

There is a big contrast between their handling of the southern story and the other big political story of the past couple of weeks where it was important to hold another bunch of politicians to account – the Labour Party Fellowship/intern story. This is very much an Auckland story.

Newsroom is new and relatively small, so can’t be expected to cover every story in depth, but some balance should be expected.

Integrity and truthfulness of leading politicians were involved in both the Barclay and intern stories.

How did their coverage of the two stories compare?

On the National/Barclay Story:

  • Politicians, police, and the payout
  • Todd Barclay’s file of denial 19 June
  • Barclay payout raises questions over leader’s fund 19 June
  • Setbacks derail National’s election plan 23 June
  • Todd Barclay responds: ‘I did nothing wrong’
  • Barclay sorry for ‘misleading’ comments
  • Police to review Todd Barclay case
  • Privacy Commissioner may probe Barclay claims
  • Allegations Barclay invented complaints
  • Fall from grace for Baby of the House
  • How Barclay’s career went up in smoke
  • PM accused of cover-up
  • Hughes stonewalls Dickson questions
  • Barclay affair: What the board knew
  • English: Barclay offered to play rec
  • Officials knew details of Barclay tapes

On the Labour/intern story

  • Labour under fire over volunteer ‘hypocrisy’

No investigations on their own turf, no investigation about funding of the scheme, no questions about Andrew Little’s  integrity and truthfulness. Little slammed English’s morals while claiming the high ground over the interns, but media has barely touched on his lack of openness and on his varying and vague explanations.

Perhaps Newsroom are doing an in depth investigation and will publish soon.

Perhaps the Auckland Labour Party and the New Zealand Labour Party will still be held to account.

‘Auckland Labour Party’ responsible for intern scheme

The ‘Auckland Labour Party’ has now been named by Labour Party general secretary Andrew Kirton as responsible along with Matt McCarten for the intern scheme.

Kirton has also said that “it started off as a Labour Party project”. So Kirton, and one would expect Labour’s leader Andrew Little, would have known more about the scheme than they have admitted.

When the Labour intern story broke it was obvious that Little and Kirton were not being open about what they knew about the scheme.

Little has said he had heard about the scheme as an idea at the start of the year, has admitted finding out it was running as an unapproved scheme in May, and he says he stepped in when they started getting complaints around Monday last week (but there are variations in that story too).

Matt McCarten quickly became the scapegoat. He was employed (by Parliamentary Services) to work for Andrew Little in Auckland, and no campaign work was allowed. However it is clear that McCarten has spent some time (months) working on the intern scheme aimed at campaigning for Labour.

The scheme was advertised overseas in February as a “Labour Party Fellowship”, with @labour.org.nz email addresses for contact. It became ”Movement for Change” in May and changed soon afterwards to “Campaign for Change”.  With McCarten leaving his Labour job it seems there was an attempt to distance the scheme from the party.

Little in particular has talked as though it was not a Labour Party scheme.

But that position was untenable. Other Labour Party people were connected with the scheme.

Earlier this week it was reported that Labour’s Auckland/Northland Representative on their NZ Council, Paul Chalmers, had stood down. Stuff on Tuesday (27 June): Two on Labour’s intern programme may have broken immigration rules as council member stands down:

Labour Leader Andrew Little on Tuesday said Paul Chalmers, who was connected with the scheme, had voluntarily stood down over the weekend “and he is not involved in the governing council of the party at this point”.

Chalmers is still named on Labour’s website as an Auckland/Northland representative.

Little said it was also possible the party would have to cover some of the costs of the plan masterminded by Little’s former chief of staff Matt McCarten, who more recently was Little’s Auckland organiser but stood down from that role in mid May when his contract ended and was not renewed.

An eight month contract terminated four months before the election seems odd.

Also on Tuesday in an RNZ interview Little’s story was starting to wobble over what he knew and who was responsible. From More details emerge of Labour’s intern scheme:

Suzy Ferguson: Are you saying you don’t know where this money’s coming from?

Little: I don’t know any details about the organisation of it apart from what we now know, I think 85 young people here staying on a marae, and helping out in various parts of the Auckland campaign. Beyond that I don’t know, I’m not sure if the party knows or knew at the time, and we’re in the process now of getting the detail about the organisation behind it.

Suzy Ferguson: …are you saying you don’t know where the thick end of two hundred grand has come from?

Little: Well, um, no one in the party is responsible for what Matt and others, and let’s be fair, it wasn’t Matt alone, there were at least four people involved in driving this, three on the party side…

Suzy Ferguson: …while this was being done Matt McCarten was in the pay of the Labour Party wasn’t he.

Little: Um, he was the, he was my, he was the director of the Auckland office, um, which is funded out of the Leader’s office, my office, um he was working for me (a) to open and run the office and (b) to run my Auckland programme, outreach programme.

Suzy Ferguson: Ok, so he’s working for you, but you’re saying you didn’t know what he was doing, you didn’t know about this?

Little: I didn’t know about this. I didn’t know the extent to which he was organising stuff.

That didn’t sound convincing.

Even more details emerged yesterday. Newshub ‘It’s not a good look’ – Labour fronts up on intern visa problems

Labour general secretary Andrew Kirton told The AM Show it’s “not a good look,” but said as soon as he heard of the programme’s problems, he stepped in to sort it out.

“My team arrived on Tuesday to sort out this programme of Matt McCarten’s and the Auckland Labour Party.”

“It’s been a bit of an effort but we’re getting on top of it now. The young volunteers are now really excited to get out and learn about MMP environments across the country.

“It started off as a Labour Party project – not too dissimilar to what we’ve done in the past. The problem with this though was it was expanded out quite significantly by Matt McCarten with support from the Auckland Labour Party.

“[It] got out of control, the management got out of control, and that’s why we stepped in straight away.”

So after about a week of trying to distance Labour from the intern scheme Kirton has admitted that it was an “Auckland Labour Party” programme, along with McCarten who was effectively Little’s chief of staff in Auckland.

Little and Kirton appear to have been somewhat frugal with the truth over the last week.

They have either deliberately misled and lied about the extent of their knowledge of the scheme, or the Labour Party in Auckland and Little’s Auckland employee were running an unauthorised scheme without telling them anything about it and without them finding out about it until last week. Or the week before. Or in May, depending on which explanation you listen to.

A number of Labour’s Auckland MPs and candidates have been involved with the interns in their campaigning – seeLinks between interns and Labour from April.

Alongside Little’s claimed lack of knowledge of the scheme it is also curious that deputy leader Jacinda Ardern, Auckland based and with a special interest in young people and getting them out to vote, seems to also have had no knowledge of an international and local student get out the vote campaign in her own city.

Labour still have major questions to answer about who the mysterious anonymous donor was, and why McCarten and possible other Labour staffers were running a campaign scheme when their employment terms didn’t allow that.

 

More details emerge of Labour’s intern scheme

Media paid attention to Labour’s intern scheme yesterday and eked out some more details from Andrew Little. There are still a number of gaps in information and credibility.

The key issues are where was the money, if there was any, who was responsible, and how this happened under Andrew Little’s nose. And did it also happen without deputy leader Jacinda Ardern being aware?

She is Labour’s most prominent Labour M with a special interest in young people and getting them out to vote, exactly what the scheme was designed to do.

Newshub:  McCarten may have left Labour in debt after intern scheme

Labour leader Andrew Little says Matt McCarten’s botched student scheme may have left a debt for the party.

Mr Little admitted today that Mr McCarten, one the scheme’s organisers, might not have the funding he had claimed and that the party would have to pick up the bills.

Internal documents obtained by Newshub show that Mr McCarten claimed to have over $100,000 funding from unions.

The unions named have all denied this, raising questions about where Mr McCarten got his money from.

There has been talk of a substantial private donor but no amount has been revealed. If it was over $30,000 then Labour have a responsibility to identify the donor. That could be awkward, especially if the aim was to finance things on the sly to try to sneak around electoral law.

While it sounds like debts have stacked up some money must have already been required.Was this handled through Little’s Auckland office? Or through the Labour Party Auckland branch?

Following McCarten being thrown under a bus – Cosgrove bus follows Labour over McCarten – the Auckland Representative on Labour’s NZ Council, Paul Chalmers has “stepped down”:

He said a senior Labour council member, Paul Chalmers, stepped down over the weekend because of his connection to the scheme and there would be an internal investigation.

Chalmers has a union background (like McCarten) and has also been campaign manager for Jacinda Ardern.

He featured in this from February 2016: Revealed: Speaker’s Warning to Labour Over Parliamentary Funds

Some weeks ago Labour sent an email in the name of Paul Chalmers, the Project Manager at Labour House, to Labour’s Auckland supporters detailing how Andrew Little had opened a Auckland office that will be “the centre of the Labour and progressive movement in Auckland and the place to co-ordinate the local government and General Election campaigns.”

The email also called on “like-minded partners” to share office space and other facility resources.

So Chalmers was already on notice, as was Little and the Labour Party.

Andrew Little was aware of the idea of the intern scheme in January but says he told McCarten then that it had to be a party campaign thing. He then says he found out about the unauthorised scheme in May and said “this is not the party thing”.

Little would have us believe even though his Auckland organiser McCarten was operating a scheme in Labour’s name purportedly without Little’s knowledge, and in breach of Parliamentary staffing rules, did nothing about it until some students complained about their accommodation last week.

And where does Jacinda Ardern stand in all of this? She has been a strong promoter of young people vote.

Just last week in The Spinoff:  Chlöe and Jacinda go back to school

Arden flattered them. “You’re the most powerful voters,” she said. “The 18-24-year-old age group, it’s the most powerful because it votes the least. Did you know there were 125,000 young people registered to vote last time, who didn’t show up. If you all vote this time, the impact will be enormous. You change the government on your own.”

So it’s hard to believe that a student get out the vote campaign being organised by Ardern’s campaign manager and Auckland’s representative on Labour’s NZ Council would not at least have said something about the scheme to Ardern. Other Auckland MPs and candidates were involved with the scheme.

And back to Little’s claims of knowing nothing about what McCarten and Chalmers and the interns were up to.

RNZ: Labour’s intern programme wasn’t authorised by party

The Labour leader says he wasn’t aware an internship programme to help with the election campaign had gone ahead as it wasn’t authorised by the party.

The party’s leader, Andrew Little, told Morning Report he had been left in the dark.

“This isn’t something that has been sanctioned or approved or authorised in any way by the party organisation.

“I think what we all discovered last week when the party got the complaints, [and] the rest of us got involved trying to sort it out, is there’s a whole heap of details we’re just trying to work out,” Mr Little said.

How could he not have known something about it? He has admitted knowing an unauthorised scheme was operating in May so his claim defies belief.

Suzy Ferguson: Are you saying you don’t know where this money’s coming from?

Little: I don’t know any details about the organisation of it apart from what we now know, I think 85 young people here staying on a marae, and helping out in various parts of the Auckland campaign. Beyond that I don’t know, I’m not sure if the party knows or knew at the time, and we’re in the process now of getting the detail about the organisation behind it.

Suzy Ferguson: …are you saying you don’t know where the thick end of two hundred grand has come from?

Little: Well, um, no one in the party is responsible for what Matt and others, and let’s be fair, it wasn’t Matt alone, there were at least four people involved in driving this, three on the party side…

Little wouldn’t say, but McCarten, Chalmers and one other presumably.

Suzy Ferguson: …while this was being done Matt McCarten was in the pay of the Labour Party wasn’t he.

Little: Um, he was the, he was my, he was the director of the Auckland office, um, which is funded out of the Leader’s office, my office, um he was working for me (a) to open and run the office and (b) to run my Auckland programme, outreach programme.

Suzy Ferguson: Ok, so he’s working for you, but you’re saying you didn’t know what he was doing, you didn’t know about this?

Little: I didn’t know about this. I didn’t know the extent to which he was organising stuff. I mean he doesn’t work for me 24 hours a day. He he has a job to manage, put together my programme when I’m up there every week, and arrange the visits that I do, um he does that.

Suzy Ferguson: But is it his job to put this kind of thing together though, when he’s working for you?

Little: No.

Suzy Ferguson:When he’s being paid for by taxpayer money?

Little: No he’s not. When he first floated the idea to me at the beginning of the year of an internship programme I said to him then that’s a party issue, that’s a campaign issue, that has to be dealt with by the party. Um, I was not aware that he was involved in ah dealing with this.

McCarten floated the idea to little at the start of the year, was effectively told he couldn’t do it but went ahead anyway without saying any more about it to Little?

Little: Um now he can deal with this stuff in his own time, as I say he doesn’t work for me 24 hours a day…

Moonlighting on a Labour labelled scheme alongside Labour people seems remarkable for someone in McCarten’s position.

Suzy Ferguson: But is it clear he did do this in his own time, or was he doing this while he was being paid by the tax payer?

Little: Well I certainly wasn’t aware of him being involved in this in the times that I was in the Auckland office and he was with me as I was going about my sort of Auckland visits and programmes.

Suzy Ferguson: Why do you think this was kept from you by someone who’s essentially your Chief of Staff in Auckland?

Little: well, um, I go back to the fact that this this wasn’t anything, this programme or project wasn’t authorised by the party at all. It wasn’t part of any formal party organisation.

Suzy Ferguson: Would you not expect that he would talk to you about this kind of thing though, because otherwise it ends up coming out in a pretty surprising sort of fashion, I mean in terms of a no surprises thing wouldn’t you expect ‘oh by the way, you know in my own time, in the evenings whatever I’m doing this?

If it was as Little stated it was a remarkable situation for his main man in Auckland not to speak to him about a significant campaign project.

Little: Um yes I don’t keep a track of everything he’s doing in his own time. I think the fact that this was, if that document was to be believed about anything at all, he was clearly considering involving unions in all this, it wasn’t just a party thing…

“Wasn’t just a party thing” – but it was in part a party thing?

…so he, it looks to me like he, and whoever else was involved with him, was embarking on a project that that wasn’t just a party thing, so he was going beyond that.

So he doesn’t tell me absolutely everything he does, I’m not sure I want to know…

Sounds a bit like plausible deniability.

…I certainly wasn’t aware um this project was being organised in the way that it was, and was as advanced as far as it was before we got notified of the problems with it.

Little let a few things slip especially towards the end of the interview.

“I didn’t know about this. I didn’t know the extent to which he was organising stuff”.

He didn’t know at all, or not to the extent it was organised?

“So he doesn’t tell me absolutely everything he does, I’m not sure I want to know”.

This sounds like a nudge nudge, wink wink sort of arrangement. Little obviously knew if McCarten worked on Labour’s campaign it would breach Parliamentary rules. Did he turn a blind eye deliberately>

And it got out of control, with the unions and McCarten overreaching when they tried to push Labour policy left as well as run the intern scheme?

Little almost certainly is being frugal with the truth here.

Labour’s “souls for the polls”

Media got back to Labour’s embarrassing intern scheme yesterday.

Stuff:  Two on Labour’s intern programme may have broken immigration rules as council member stands down

Two of Labour’s interns may have broken immigration visa rules, the party says.

Party secretary Andrew Kirton said in the course of sorting out the international volunteer programme the party had become aware two of the 85 interns may not have held the visa necessary to take part in the programme.

That seems to be a relatively minor issue.

One curious aspect of Labour’s intern programme was an attempt to turn out votes from church goers.

McCarten had also floated the idea of bringing in a reverend from the United States – dubbed “souls for the polls” to unify the Ratana and Pasifika churches and turn out voters.

“I can’t imagine Al Sharpton coming down,” Mr Little said.

Interns in the programme had been working on targeting ‘religious Labour votes’:

InternPak3

Little said McCarten’s plan – which he has named a “Campaign for Change” –  was one of those “ginger groups” that pop up from time to time. He described McCarten’s ideas as “fantasy world stuff”.

It was originally promoted as “Labour Party Fellowship” and was also referred to as”Movement for Change” (a document that gave details about the scheme referred to ‘Movement for Change Ltd’ but there is no registered company of that name).

Bringing out a bunch of US students to campaign for them was criticised as hypocritical due to Labour’s recently announced policy aimed at substantially cutting down on student visas.

If they had brought out a US pastor to campaign for them it is likely to have raised more eyebrows. Is there a shortage of Kiwi pastors?

Newshub:  McCarten may have left Labour in debt after intern scheme

Labour leader Andrew Little says Matt McCarten’s botched student scheme may have left a debt for the party.

“There is a potential for it [debt], yes,” Mr Little said. “We take moral responsibility and that means and creditors and suppliers have to be looked after and we will have to do that.”

They may need a few pastors with collection plates

 

 

Irony on coup claim

I think there’s a real possibility that there is a coup attempt unfolding inside and against National, blue on blue. The gradual drip feeding and attempted entrapment of Bill English looks like someone or some people have a serious political agenda. I suggested this last week.

Someone else is also suggesting a possible coup: Are we witnessing a very Kiwi Coup?

I think we are witnessing a slow motion coup.

Middle NZ rewards convincing political liars & punishes incompetent ones.

Bill English is being destabilised in front of our eyes because someone has reaped a heavy political price from deep personal pain. Todd has been sacrificed and Bill destabilised right when a totally fabricated Labour student slave story suddenly erupts via a right wing political news blog.

Who has fed this information to the NewsRoom?

Watch how nasty this now turns. Blood is in the water.

Someone is drip feeding this.

I think there could be some validity to these suggestions. More specifics with names were already mentioned but I think that may be guesswork perhaps with utu in mind.

But these claims are highly ironic given who wrote it – Martyn Bradbury.

I’ve also already written about how it looks like Bradbury may have had some involvement, at least on the periphery, of a type of coup attempt in Labour.

Matt McCarten was certainly involved, as was Mike Treen, and Bradbury may have revealed more than he should have (as usual). Ex unionist and ex campaign manager for Jacinda Ardern, Paul Chalmers, has also been involved and has now stepped down as Auckland representative on Labour’s NZ Council.

Bradbury posted about ten far left policies designed to Corbynise their campaign that Labour’s head office refused to adopt.

It appears Auckland’s Labour left tried to drive the Labour bus in their own direction, and crashed.

So while Bradbury may have a valid point or two about National’s mess it is very ironic for him to talk about party coups.