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Angered Citizen Sues Clark Over Pledge Cards

PRESS RELEASE
Libertarianz
Legal Action


Seeing Red – Angered Citizen Sues Clark Over Pledge Cards

Lower Hutt businessman and Libertarianz leader Bernard Darnton filed papers in the High Court this afternoon suing Helen Clark for misappropriating public funds to pay for her “pledge cards” at the last election.

The lawsuit claims that the use of the parliamentary leader's fund to pay for the pledge card and brochure breached the Constitution Act 1986, the Public Finance Act 1989, and the Bill of Rights 1688. Darnton is calling for the High Court to make a declaration that this expenditure was illegal.

“Helen Clark is not above the law,” Darnton said. “This time she's not going to get away with it.”

“The rules on Crown spending are very clear. All Crown spending must be authorised by Parliament. Each year Parliament must pass an Appropriations Act that details how much the Crown may spend and what it may spend it on. The money spent on the pledge cards was appropriated for the running of the leader's office. This rules for this money explicitly exclude “party political, promotional or electioneering material”. It was not appropriated for election advertising and thus the spending was illegal.

“This government seems to have forgotten who's in charge. In a democracy, the people are in charge. The people elect a Parliament and then parliamentarians form a government. The government is the servant of the people, not their master. The appropriations rules are one of our basic constitutional protections. By ignoring the appropriations rules, this government has shown that it doesn't care about the will of Parliament or the will of the people and is quite happy to behave like a dictatorship.

“A declaration by the High Court that this spending was illegal will send a clear reminder to the Clark regime that they are not above the law and that they are still answerable to their master, the public.

“I'm absolutely committed to making sure that this government doesn't get away with breaking the law. A government that follows the rule of law is essential to a free and open society. Something is rotten in the state of New Zealand, and my pledge is to stop the rot.”

ENDS

More information on the case can be found at www.DarntonVsClark.org, and www.pc.blogspot.com.

Bernard Darnton
Libertarianz Leader

--

www.libertarianz.org.nz


APPENDIX: SUMMARY OF THE ELECTORAL ACT INVESTIGATION

This is a time-line of the major events relating to the investigation.

Tue 30-Aug-05 CEO asks Labour why pledge card and brochure not authorised

Fri 02-Sep-05 CEO writes to Mike Smith

Tue 06-Sep-05 Mike Smith replies to CEO saying it is all the Leader's Office

Mon 12-Sep-05 CEO repeats questions to Mike Smith

Wed 14-Sep-05 Mike Smith writes to CEO offering to include pledge cards
in election advertising

Wed 05-Oct-05 Mike Smith writes to CEO withdrawing offer to include
pledges cards

Thu 20-Oct-05 CEO refers lack of authorisation to Police

Mon 12-Dec-05 Heather Simpson spoken to by phone

Tue 27-Dec-05 DSS Arnerich recomends to DI Quinn not to prosecute Labour
for lack of authorisation

Wed 18-Jan-06 DI Quinn recommends to OOTC not to prosecute Labour for
lack of authorisation

Thu 09-Feb-06 Electoral Commission refers Labour to Police for
over-spending by $418,603

Mon 27-Feb-06 DI Peoples recommends to DS Perry no prosecutions

Mon 27-Feb-06 DS Perry recommends to AC Marshall no prosecutions

Wed 01-Mar-06 AC Marshall recommends to ADC Carson not to prosecute but
to have Dr Andrew Jack review the rport

Thu 02-Mar-06 Acting Dep Cmsr Carson asks Crown Law and OOTC Chief Legal
Adviser to review

Fri 17-Mar-06 Police announce, on arguably last possible day, no
prosecutions

Mon 20-Mar-06 CEO writes to Police asking for recommendations referred
to by ADC Carson

Tue 21-Mar-06 Meeting between Police and CEO re Police release

Wed 22-Mar-06 Police write to CEO to advise Police will contact OAG re
Parl Expend Rules


Some key things to note at this stage:

1) Labour were first alerted to the CEO's concerns 18 days before the election. The standard campaign is in the last four weeks mainly, so this was quite early in the peice

2) Labour agreed, prior to the election, to include the pledge cards in their expenditure

3) Only three weeks later did Labour withdraw its agreement - after the election


Taken from David Farrar's Kiwiblog:
http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/archives/cat_electoral_act.html


ENDS

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