By Stephen Cook
The Len Brown sex scandal has taken a dramatic new twist today with revelations the two-timing Auckland mayor used his influence to help the woman he was sleeping with get a job at the council-run art gallery.
Less than 72 hours after going public with details of her torrid two-year affair, 32-year-old Bevan Chuang has revealed Brown acted as a referee for her when she successfully applied for a job at the council-run art gallery back in August last year.
This was more than a year after she and Brown – who earlier claimed Chuang had never been a council employee when in fact he’d endorsed her for a council job – began the affair that’s now threatening his future as Auckland mayor.
Chuang confirmed that after being shortlisted for the position, the art gallery manager rang Brown, who’d she’d listed as a referee, to ask whether she was a suitable candidate for the job.
Brown said she was, and off the back of that endorsement she was given the job.
“…I remember my manager was excited to be the first person in the gallery to have spoken to him (the mayor),” Chuang said.
But what Chuang didn’t disclose to art gallery bosses when applying for the job was the fact she had a criminal conviction relating to the unauthorized use of a computer.
The conviction dated back to 2010 when she was an employee at the Auckland Museum. Chuang provided a contractor with a password to access a confidential email account believed to contain information detrimental to plans to restructure the museum.
It is still not clear whether Brown knew about the conviction when he endorsed Chuang for the art gallery position – but regardless, the fact the mayor did not disclose a conflict of interest in the appointment of his mistress to a council-run organisation is a clear breach of local government laws.
When Chuang’s conviction came to light about a month after starting work at the art gallery she was sacked.
The new revelations bare a striking resemblance to those in the Bronwyn Pullar case, which eventually led to Nick Smith’s resignation as ACC Minister back in March 2012.
They are almost certainly likely to raise more questions about Brown’s judgment and whether he still retains the mandate of Aucklanders to run the country’s largest city.
Chuang said when she began work at the gallery Brown – who rarely visited the facility – suddenly became a frequent visitor. She said gallery staff would get themselves into “a flap” when they heard Brown was on his way, thinking he was there to see them.
She said the truth was that Brown was there to see her – a fact lost on staff who would “fluff around” after him.