Questions over Pagani

Is Stuff’s “political commentator” Pagani still being paid by the taxpayer to be Goff’s 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 the propriety 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.  I have never received a cent from the National Party or parliamentary services for anything I have said, written or done, and I wouldn’t 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.  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.  They’d 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 haven’t done any of this.  In typical Labour fashion, instead of complaining to the authorities they have decided their own suspicions are enough and – to make things fair – that they should start paying people too (even though, to my knowledge, National actually doesn’t.)

This is what led them to break the spending limit in 2005 – they thought National was, so they thought they should too (no matter that National actually didn’t.)

The person they have chosen, I’m told, to be their paid political commentator is John Pagani.

Pagani is of course married to Josie Pagani, Labour’s candidate for Otaki Rangitikei, and he used to be Phil Goff’s chief strategist.  Well, according to the tip line, he actually still is Goff’s chief strategist.  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

It’s interesting that on Stuff they call his column “Left Leaning” and they say he’s a “former” senior advisor to Phil Goff when perhaps what they should be saying is “this guy is paid to be Phil Goff’s senior strategist, but pretend he’s only a former senior advisor so he can write this.”

Compare that to what they say about David Farrar and the way they even link to his disclosure statement where he says his company receives money for polling from the National Party.

I hope I’m wrong about Pagani but I doubt I am.  With his wife running for Parliament and out of her job, and with kids’ 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.  The family is being paid somehow.  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 brother Paul Thompson at Fairfax 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.”

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story.  And when he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet.   Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet, and as a result he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist that takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him.  But you can’t ignore him.