Is Stuffâs âpolitical commentatorâ Pagani still being paid by the taxpayer to be Goffâs chief strategist?
Just today John Pagani makes an inept and silly attack on Radio Live and their lawyers, front running yet again Labour’s and Phil Goff’s lines. With dirty little attacks like this common now from Labour MPs and it’s flunkies some questions need to be asked about theÂ proprietyÂ of John Pagani.
The Labour Party has long suspected that David Farrar, me, Michelle Boag and even columnists like Matthew Hooton are paid by the National Party or through parliamentary services or in some other way to speak in the media as political commentators. They fail to understand that we do what we do, mostly because we can, and often because it is fun. They must always colour their judgment by that which they do. In other words they see conspiracy because that is what they would do.
In my case, anyway, they are totally wrong about any payments.Â I have never received a cent from the National Party or parliamentary services for anything I have said, written or done, and I wouldnât accept it if I was.
Still, Labour deeply believes that all the key members of the VRWC are paid by the National Party and is very angry about it.Â My new friends in the Labour Party tell me that high-level discussions even occurred as far back as 2009 between Phil Goff, his mate Mike Moore and party strategists about the need to create a Farrar or Hooton in the media.
Now, what an ethical party would do, if it has these suspicions about illegal or unethical payments, is find out whether it was true, and try and stop it.Â Theyâd make a complaint to the Speaker or the Auditor-General, or get the media to investigate. Or indeed lobby as I have done to open up the Parliamentary Services to the OIA. Labour however has opposed this vociferously mainly because there are things under the covers of Parliamentary Services that they would rather the voters couldn’t see.
But they havenât done any of this.Â In typical Labour fashion, instead of complaining to the authorities they have decided their own suspicions are enough and â to make things fair â that they should start paying people too (even though, to my knowledge, National actually doesnât.)
This is what led them to break the spending limit in 2005 â they thought National was, so they thought they should too (no matter that National actually didnât.)
The person they have chosen, Iâm told, to be their paid political commentator is John Pagani.
Pagani is of course married to Josie Pagani, Labourâs candidate for
Otaki Rangitikei, and he used to be Phil Goffâs chief strategist.Â Well, according to the tip line, he actually still is Goffâs chief strategist.Â Apparently, it was decided it would be a cunning plan to change his status from employee to contractor so that he could then go out, deny being paid by Labour, and get gigs with, among others Radio New Zealand and stuff.co.nz
Itâs interesting that on Stuff they call his column âLeft Leaningâ and they say heâs a âformerâ senior advisor to Phil GoffÂ when perhaps what they should be saying is âthis guy is paid to be Phil Goffâs senior strategist, but pretend heâs only a former senior advisor so he can write this.â
Compare that to what they say aboutÂ David FarrarÂ and the way they even link toÂ his disclosure statementÂ where he says his company receives money for polling from the National Party.
I hope Iâm wrong about Pagani but I doubt I am.Â With his wife running for Parliament and out of her job, and with kidsâ mouths to feed, are we really to believe he quit his $100,000+ job with Goff to become a blogger earning $100 here and $50 there as a media commentator?
Of course not.Â The family is being paid somehow.Â By Labour?
Then of course there is the form of the Goffice in meddling with things media. During the height of the Darren Hughes saga, senior Goffice staffer Gordon John Thompson enlisted the aid of his brotherÂ Paul Thompson at FairfaxÂ to descend hell upon the editor of the Sunday Star Times to get them to call off Jonathan Marshall. Paul Thompson even descended from his lofty heights to “assist” David Kemeys editorial decisions and spent a considerable amount of time in the newsroom on this issue alone.
So it is with some bemusement that we see John Pagani leave a high paid job in the Goffice and appear all of a sudden opposing David Farrar at the Fairfax run stuff site. A man who has no legacy at blogging or commenting, a back room dark arts practitioner who now all of the sudden makes a career choice to become an unpaid blogger and commentator, just when his wife is losing her income too.
There is the sniff test in politics and smells a bit whiffy. Questions need to be asked, answers need to be sought.
UPDATE: John Pagani has emailed me with a categoric denial: “I run a consultancy business. We are looking for business hard. We don’t have any there.”