Angered Citizen Sues Clark Over Pledge Cards
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.”
More information on the case can be found at www.DarntonVsClark.org, and www.pc.blogspot.com.
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
Thu 20-Oct-05 CEO refers lack of authorisation to Police
Mon 12-Dec-05 Heather Simpson spoken to by phone
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
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: