NZ POLITICS DAILY: Dotcom, dirty deals and political ‘corruption’

Bryce Edwards

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.

For more on the Greens’ orientation to the Internet Party, see Simon Wong’s Greens could get Internet Party's support and Matthew Backhouse’s Norman asked Dotcom to scrap political party.

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.

Today’s links  

Kim Dotcom

TVNZ: Dotcom's political party faces uncertain future

Andrew Chen (MCDP): Extradition and the Internet Party

Simon Wong (TV3): Greens could get Internet Party's support

Stuff: Dotcom: We'll pull out if unpopular 

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

 

Syria

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

Herald: Editorial: Drastic move to cancel passports is plain wrong

Radio NZ: Aid mission in Syrian city extended

 

Whaling

Simon Wong (TV3): Key: Apology from Japan 'would be good'

Stacey Kirk (Stuff): Benefit of doubt to Japan over whaling incursion

TVNZ: PM demands apology over whaling ship breach

Audrey Young (Herald): PM hoping for Japanese apology

 

Labour Party

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

 

National Party

Stuff: Conor English to follow Bill English?

Dave Williams (Newswire): Key not an alien, there's no document

Ele Ludemann (Homepaddock): Blue’s better

Patrick Leyland (Progress Report): More National selections

 

Green Party

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

 

Ex-pat Party

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

 

Electricity

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

 

NZ-Australia relations

Newswire: Abbott adopts NZ's careful budget approach

Radio NZ: Boycott would backfire – Wills

ODT: Buying New Zealand made

 

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

 

Plain packaging

Dominion Post: Editorial: Burnt sacrifice to the bully?

Hamish Rutherford (Stuff): Plain tobacco pack law passes vote

TVNZ: Plain packaging law expected to be long, drawn-out

Audrey Young (Herald): Plain-package law should be passed without delay – Labour

David Farrar (Kiwiblog): The plain packaging law

 

Flag

Malcolm Mulholland (Herald): Does our flag reflect who we are as a nation?

Chris Trotter (Stuff): A black flag is the colour of death

 

Education

Newswire: Uni council changes 'silencing students' – Labour

Radio NZ: Reforms to lock in representation

Radio NZ: Charter school funding

TVNZ: Govt accused of 'throwing money' at charter schools

Michael Fox (Stuff): Labour slams charter school funding

David Clendon (Frogblog): Academic Freedom or Free Market?

Matthew Beveridge: #inspiredbyU

Radio NZ: Students, staff to lose seats on councils

Hamish Rutherford (Stuff): Pay problems spark call for reform

Holly Walker (Frogblog): Uni tackling the wrong issues

 

TPP

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

 

Economy

Richard Meadows (Stuff): KiwiSaver not helping NZ – report

Marta Steeman and Michael Foreman (Stuff): '$1.8b extra a year' from more migrants

Stuff: IRD gets more ammo to fight multinationals

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

 

Radio NZ

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

 

GCSB

RadioLIVE: Taxpayers billed for GCSB compensation attempt

Felix Marwick (Newstalk ZB): Dunne still dodging Kitteridge questions

Gareth Hughes (Frogblog): Why our website has gone black

 

Nauru

Radio NZ: Deportations prompt New Zealand limits on Nauru aid

Radio NZ: NZ's McCully encourages Nauru to reconsider journalists visas

 

Other

Stuff: Today in politics: Wednesday, Feb 12

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

 

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