Lengate gets murkier
The Herald has revealed that Bevan Chuang says she was also in an sporadic intimate relationship with Luigi Wewege, a member of Palino’s campaign team, as well as Len Brown and that Wewege has been pressuring her for months to reveal the affair with Brown.
Wewege has denied a relationship with Chuang, but text messages between then include:
Chuang: I absolutely undoubtedly love you. I just don’t know if you do
Wewege: Not true! You just make me sad sometimes …
Wewege: I literally work 24/7 and something small you know you can do change my life and you won’t do it!
All it is … is just a shrewd of evidence and I promise you are fully protected! Baby I have everything set up people are just waiting for you.
So close to less stressed Luigi who can lay in bed all weekend with Bevan!!!!!
Wewege has obviously lied to the media, unless those texts are fabricated – which I doubt.
Wewege is not my favourite person due to how he treated a close friend of mine, whom he also had a relationship with. His pressuring of Chuang reflects badly on him, as does his denial of a relationship with her.
When news of the scandal broke on Tuesday, Mr Palino said he had no knowledge of the affair or who was involved. Later in the day he issued a statement saying he would not be commenting as it was a personal matter for Len Brown and his family to deal with.
Last night, Mr Palino said he also had no knowledge of an intimate relationship between Mr Wewege and Ms Chuang.
He said Mr Wewege, who mainly handled his social media, advertising and marketing, told him he was friends with Ms Chuang but he did not know about his social life. …
Cameron Slater told the Herald there was “no vast right wing conspiracy” and Ms Chuang approached him with the sex claims. He confirmed he also spoke with Mr Wewege but said he did not tell his father, Palino’s campaign manager John Slater, or Mr Palino.
“She came to me but I don’t know what went on with her and Luigi.”
Mr Slater said he would have published the story during the election if he had proof to back up her claims but Ms Chuang was reluctant to provide it.
“We couldn’t run the story without a sworn affidavit from her and the text messages.”
It’s ironic that Whale Oil demanded a higher level of proof than many in the media would have.
He said “everything went quiet” until he wrote a blog post on Tuesday last week urging readers to vote for Mr Palino with a vague reference to Mr Brown and “Asian beauties”.
“I got a threatening text, [Ms Chuang] got a text, my dad got a text. All from the same number.”
He also believed the website post forced Mr Brown to tell his wife about the affair and the threat convinced Ms Chuang to sign an affidavit and provide the text messages needed to run the story.
It will be interesting to find out who sent that threatening text, and what links (if any) they have to the Mayor. Their actions, caused the story to come out.
The Herald identified Ms Chuang as the mistress and yesterday she said she was sorry for the “hurt and pain” that the saga had caused.
“I was also brought up in a family where my father had an affair and I know how hard this will be for Len’s wife and three girls,” Ms Chuang said.
On that note, daughter Sam Brown, has written a statement on behalf of all three daughters backing her father as Mayor, and saying the issue of fidelity is a personal one. I think everyone has huge sympathy for the Brown daughters (and wife) as it must be almost beyond comprehension to have to deal with such highly personal revelations.
However debate is starting on whether it is purely a personal matter. The Herald reports:
Questions remain about professional consequences for Mr Brown, after he admitted the affair, which was conducted during office hours and on council property.
Last night, councillor Dick Quax said the mayor’s affair was more than a personal situation.
“This is Len’s second indiscretion. The first one was with credit card spending at Manukau City,” he said. “For me now it comes back to an issue of trust, integrity and personal judgment and I think he has failed on this.”
I imagine media will be putting in LGOIMA requests for any expense claims from the Mayor> if there was any spending of ratepayer money on the affair, then that would become a more serious issue.
Last night, Mr Brown decided not to attend the youth development annual excellence awards at Government House in Auckland.
Understandable, but if the affair revelations means an inability to attend public functions for a period, that also raises issues of is it just personal.
Auckland University employment law expert Bill Hodge told the Herald he recalled a case from the mid-2000s where an employee at the old Auckland City Council was sacked for having sex on the job.
Mr Brown is not an employee of the council, he is an elected office holder so the same rules do not apply to him – making the situation “hypocritical”, said Dr Hodge.
“Prior to Len Brown becoming mayor and prior to becoming a super city [Auckland City Council] fired a security guard for a single incidence of having a sexual activity with another person on the job,” he said. “It’s a disparity of treatment that an employee gets fired, and did in fact, and it’s even [more] ironical that it was a security guard because apparently a security guard did find them [Mr Brown and Ms Chuang] at one point.”
Elected representatives are not employees of course.
Ultimately the public decide whether or not to sack a politician. If Brown stands again at the next election, then they’ll have that chance then to vote him in or out. There is certainly no constitutional reason for him to resign before then. The question is whether he wants to stay on, risking being a lame duck Mayor who will be the butt of jokes for the next three years.
Prime Minister John Key has refused to be drawn into the sex scandal surrounding Auckland Mayor Len Brown, saying: “Len’s got a job to do.” …
The Prime Minister did not directly address questions yesterday about whether the under-fire mayor had his unequivocal support, but said: “I intend to work with him as the Mayor of Auckland, and in the end my job is to work with elected officials and get the job done for Auckland.”
He said the publication of Mr Brown’s two-year affair with local board candidate Bevan Chuang was “a matter for Len Brown and his family”.
The sex scandal comes at a time when the National-led Government is working closely with Mr Brown and the Auckland Council to rapidly increase affordable housing in Auckland.
Mr Key did not believe the controversy would destabilise the council.
“From the Government’s point of view, we’re interested in the things that matter to Auckland, and that is certainly housing as is transport, and we’ll be talking to Len about those issues, not other issues.”
That’s a very decent attitude from the Prime Minister and is a huge contrast to how Labour MPs have reacted in similar circumstances. The then Labour leader (Phil Goff) actively pursued Richard Worth over similar allegations and demanded he resign etc because he allegedly had a romantic interest in a Labour Party candidate. Also Labour MPs helped reveal Don Brash’s alleged affair with taunts in the House prior to it being exposed.
For me I don’t think having an affair makes you unfit for office. It is a factor voters may take into account, but as I have said previously politicians are human, and an affair is not automatic grounds for resignation. The fact there were encounters on work property is poor judgement, but again not resignation material.
The issue which is more finely balanced is the fact Chuang was a member of a panel appointed by the Mayor, and any future reappointment was his decision. That is what people call a power imbalance. It would be like (for example) the Tourism Minister having an affair with a Tourism NZ Board member (whom he or she appoints).
UPDATE: The Herald editorial:
Len Brown is not the man Aucklanders thought he was when they elected him their mayor for a second term just last Saturday. His fall from grace has nothing to do with his performance in public life but the distinction between the public and private lives of a public figure is never clear cut. When private behaviour becomes public knowledge it cannot simply be washed from everyone’s mind.
The mayor will wear this embarrassment everywhere he appears and every time he speaks for the city. Eventually he might live it down but probably not – unless he begins to register achievements for Auckland that overshadow the tawdry affair revealed on Tuesday by the woman involved.
Mr Brown thinks he can live it down and appeals to Aucklanders to retain confidence and trust in him. He is asking a great deal. Readers voting on the Herald website are declaring by a hefty margin they would prefer him to resign. Had those who voted for him in the past few weeks known what they know now, the election could have been very different. …
Some will say that honour requires him to find out, that it is not enough to appeal to Aucklanders to keep faith in him. The decent thing to do would be to resign and offer himself for the voters’ verdict. But that is a lot to ask of him. Decency can go unrecognised, particularly in these circumstances.
That is always an option – resign, but contest a by-election.
Political commentator David Farrar posts at Kiwiblog.