Allegations of ‘corruption’ and ‘dirty deals’ are being thrown around over the relationship between some of our political party leaders and wealthy internet businessman and wannabe politician Kim Dotcom. It all relates to the fact that various politicians have been courting Dotcom’s favour, while at the same time discussing whether they would intervene to help prevent Dotcom being extradited to the United States by fighting in government to overturn any judicial decision. According to some commentators there is, at the very least, an issue with the perception of inappropriate and opaque electoral deals being made.
The strongest condemnation of the potential links between party policy and support for Dotcom have come from rightwing blogger David Farrar, who claims that some politicians are ‘saying they will over-turn the courts in his favour at the same time as they meet him to discuss political strategy. That is pretty close to corruption’ – see: Would Labour and Greens over-rule the court for Kim Dotcom?
Farrar explains the problem, as he sees it: ‘Russel Norman has been out twice to meet Dotcom, and ask him to support the Greens instead of setting up his own political party. And in return he is offering that a Labour/Greens Government would basically corruptly over-turn the decision of the court in Dotcom’s favour. Cunliffe is not ruling out that he would also over-turn any court decision. We also learn Winston Peters has been out to meet DotCom multiple times’. Farrar warns that ‘We head towards corruption if people can buy themselves a different decision’.
Farrar’s argument might easily be dismissed as partisan point-scoring if it wasn’t for others on the left making some similar points. Labour blogger Rob Salmond has also voiced strong concern that the parties of the left might fall under ‘the influence of individuals seeking to essentially buy government policy for cash’. He suggests that Dotcom is offering to throw his weight behind whatever party gives him the best personal deal by political means.
Salmond says, that ‘by "his weight," I presume he means large buckets of money. That sets up an silent auction for parties to compete for Dotcom's money on the basis of policy promises, first and foremost about Dotcom's own extradition case. That is, if parties decide they want to play. I think the opposition parties should all take a pass…. this gambit looks exactly like a convoluted version of a rich guy offering up cash in exchange for personally favourable policies. Yuck. We're now in this odd position where left parties that actively compete in the policy space for Dotcom's affections will be hypocrites’ – see: Kim Dotcom's 5% gambit.
The original ‘dirty deals’ story was broken by Patrick Gower – see his opinion piece, Labour, Greens willing to free Dotcom. Gower has asked the Labour and Greens leaders directly about their willingness to block the extradition of Dotcom – which you can view in his 2-minute TV3 item One in five would consider voting for Dotcom.
Patrick Gower (@patrickgowernz) has also tweeted to joke that the choice at the election could boil down to this: ‘You want Dotcom gone? Vote for J.Key and Crusher Collins. Want chance of Dotcom stay? Vote Labour-Green’. And quite sensibly, Bill Ralston (@BillyRalston) has tweeted: ‘It might be helpful if all politicians who have had talks with KDC declared their interest and what was discussed, who’s been with him & why’. For more from Twitter, see my blogpost Top tweets about Dotcom, the Internet Party, and deals with other parties.
Of course, it’s worth pointing out that there is not necessarily any connection at all between what happens with Dotcom’s legal case and what the various parliamentary parties are talking to him about. Much of the commentary is mere speculation. Nonetheless it is interesting that so many politicians have been in discussions with Dotcom.
It's the Green Party and Russel Norman who are first in the firing line over allegations about ‘dirty deals’. This is because Norman has clearly stated his inclination to fight Dotcom’s extradition if the Greens enter government.
John Armstrong has pointed to the Greens’ ‘massive conflict of interest’, and suggested that a party that normally takes a very critical stance towards anyone else’s perceived conflicts of interest, needs ‘to take a long hard look in the mirror and address matters much closer to home’ – see: Greens blinded by Dotcom's aura.
Eyebrows have been raised about Norman’s unambiguous opposition to Dotcom’s extradition. For instance, Andrew Geddis says that his ‘phrasing is a little unfortunate, because it looks a lot like Norman has already made up his mind on the matter’ – see: Will no one rid me of this turbulent German? See also, Russell Brown’s The Uses of Dotcom.
John Key has called Norman ‘foolish’, and today’s Manawatu Standard editorial also takes him to task – see: Norman comments irresponsible. And for other critical voices, see Julie Moffett’s Labour distancing itself from Dotcom.
Andrew Geddis’ blogpost is also the best discussion of the legalities of the extradition process. He argues that the Minister of Justice actually has to consider the extradition request, rather than simply rubber-stamp what the courts decide. Geddis also says that David Cunliffe’s comments so far have been appropriate. Cunliffe now appears to be backtracking somewhat further, making it look less likely that a Labour government would block extradition – see Briar Marbeck’s Labour 'won't intervene' in Dotcom extradition.
The current Minister of Justice, Judith Collins, is scathing about the public statements being made by politicians on the case – see Laura McQuillan and Barry Soper’s PM weighs in on Dotcom chatter. She labels Cunliffe and Norman’s behaviour as ‘irresponsible’ and ‘unconstitutional’. And the Prime Minister is suggesting that if a future government blocked extradition proceedings, it would essentially pull New Zealand out of the treaty with the US – see Briar Marbeck’s Key: 'Fair enough' if Greens break extradition treaty.
But would a change of government really make any difference to the likelihood of Dotcom being extradited? Blogger Andrew Chen thinks not. He believes pressure from the US would override any resistance from a new government, and anyway, ‘It is far more likely that his case will shrivel up in court (either here or in the US) and Dotcom gets to spend the rest of his days freely in New Zealand. The Minister of Justice won't get to play any role in that decision’ – see: Extradition and the Internet Party.
Finally, for a satirical take on it all see Danyl Mclauchlan’s Labour planning dodgy electoral deal with immortal giant, and Steve Braunias’ The secret diary of Kim Dotcom.
Andrew Chen (MCDP): Extradition and the Internet Party
Simon Wong (TV3): Greens could get Internet Party's support
Laura McQuillan and Barry Soper (Newstalk ZB): PM weighs in on Dotcom chatter
Rob Salmond (Polity): Kim Dotcom's 5% gambit
Radio NZ: Dotcom to disband party if polling low
Newstalk ZB Staff (Newstalk ZB): Labour-Green coalition could block Dotcom extradition
Isaac Davison (Herald): Dotcom extradition could be decided by Labour or Greens
Newstalk ZB Staff (Newstalk ZB): Peters won't say whether he's visited Dotcom
Andrew Geddes (Pundit): Will no one rid me of this turbulent German?
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Would Labour and Greens over-rule the court for Kim Dotcom?
Keeping Stock: The Party's over before it began
No Right Turn: An unlawful violation of freedom of movement
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Labour on NZers fighting in Syria
Claire Trevett (Herald): Key's Syria security details may be smokescreen - Labour
Radio NZ: Aid mission in Syrian city extended
Simon Wong (TV3): Key: Apology from Japan 'would be good'
Stacey Kirk (Stuff): Benefit of doubt to Japan over whaling incursion
Audrey Young (Herald): PM hoping for Japanese apology
Vernon Small (Stuff): Cunliffe seeks chief of staff
Barry Soper (Newstalk ZB): Finlayson hits out at Labour-Green coalition
Hamish Rutherford (Stuff): Top Cunliffe staffer quits
Claire Trevett (Herald): Cunliffe's chief of staff Wendy Brandon resigns
Corin Dann (TVNZ): David Cunliffe's chief of staff resigns
Briar Marbeck (TV3): Opposition will 'say anything' in election year - Key
Pete George (Your NZ): Labour labouring under leader labour losses
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Labour loses another Chief of Staff
Dave Williams (Newswire): Key not an alien, there's no document
Ele Ludemann (Homepaddock): Blue’s better
Patrick Leyland (Progress Report): More National selections
Sophia Duckor-Jones (Newstalk ZB): Greens to march across Hamilton
Daily Blog: GUEST BLOG: Gareth Hughes – Deep Sea Oil Drilling, National & Labour are ignoring the facts
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Green Party List Ranking
Corazon miller (Newstalk ZB): Party aims to give expats a louder voice
Michael Safi (Guardian): Expat Kiwis set up political party to fight New Zealand election
Pattrick Smellie (NBR): Power report ducks question of fair prices, Bertram says
Radio NZ: Parties dispute power plan report
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Sapere on Labour/Greens power policy
Radio NZ: Boycott would backfire – Wills
Maori politics and Waitangi Day
Gary Tong (Stuff): Our history, our future
Pete George (Your NZ): Waitangi settlement size perspective
Mike Butler (Breaking Views): The autocrat and the treaty
Daily Blog: Waitangi Day: fun, though MASSIVELY over-policed
Dominion Post: Editorial: Burnt sacrifice to the bully?
Hamish Rutherford (Stuff): Plain tobacco pack law passes vote
Audrey Young (Herald): Plain-package law should be passed without delay – Labour
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): The plain packaging law
Malcolm Mulholland (Herald): Does our flag reflect who we are as a nation?
Chris Trotter (Stuff): A black flag is the colour of death
Radio NZ: Reforms to lock in representation
Radio NZ: Charter school funding
Michael Fox (Stuff): Labour slams charter school funding
David Clendon (Frogblog): Academic Freedom or Free Market?
Matthew Beveridge: #inspiredbyU
Hamish Rutherford (Stuff): Pay problems spark call for reform
Holly Walker (Frogblog): Uni tackling the wrong issues
Vernon Small (Stuff): Labour TPP transparency push blocked
Simon Wong (TV3): Labour seeks TPP text for public debate
Barry Soper (Newstalk ZB): Labour won't commit to the TPP just yet
No Right Turn: National hates transparency
Richard Meadows (Stuff): KiwiSaver not helping NZ – report
Marta Steeman and Michael Foreman (Stuff): '$1.8b extra a year' from more migrants
James Weir (Stuff): Economic growth no 'flash in the pan' – ANZ
Ele Ludemann (Homepaddock): More migrants better for all
Inequality and poverty
Mike Smith (The Standard): Economy-wide benefits of Living Wage?
Simon Collins (Herald): Good news on state of our nation
Simon Collins (Herald): State of our nation: Crime, jobs and our kids - things are looking up
Radio NZ: Child poverty seen as timebomb
Lois Cairns (Stuff): Council ponders affordable housing market
Michael Daly (Stuff): Home ownership declines further
No Right Turn: This should not happen in New Zealand
Ben Clark (The Standard): Inequality for all
John Drinnan (Herald): Radio NZ revamp: Mercep will move to afternoons
John Drinnan (Herald): RNZ confirms big shake-up
Radio NZ: Changes at Radio New Zealand
Felix Marwick (Newstalk ZB): Dunne still dodging Kitteridge questions
Gareth Hughes (Frogblog): Why our website has gone black
Andrea Vance (Stuff): Plan for cops to wear cameras
Claire Trevett (Herald): Push to get 10-year NZ passports
Pete George (Your NZ): Brendan Horan, Winston Peters, Bruce Bayliss and transparency
Murial Newman (NZCPR): Citizens’ Democracy – the way of the future
Steven Price (MLJ): Harmful Digital Communications Bill submission
The Standard: Role of Government
Jade Cooper (Newstalk ZB): Politicians copping flack for drinking boasts
Jesse Hume (Daily Blog): Sexual Objectification Vs Sexual Attraction
Patricia and David Schnauer (Herald): Chance for Act to rise above rabble
This article is tagged with the following keywords. Find out more about MyNBR Tags