Your rates are paying for Len Brown’s re-election campaign

Len Brown

Len Brown, happy that his ratepayer funded PR machine just keeps on keeping on

Jock Anderson at NBR reports [paywalled]:

Auckland mayor Len Brown’s office continues to pump out press releases in the pre-election period, calling into question whether this is allowing him to use ratepayer-funded resources to aid his re-election campaign.

In a stiff criticism of Mr Brown’s actions, first published on the New Zealand Local Government website this week, Wellingtonian Hamish McConnochie says Mr Brown appears to be gaining an unfair advantage ahead of this year’s local body elections, with his ratepayer-funded “Mayoral Media” PR service continuing to issue press releases in the pre-election period.

This is despite the Office of the Auditor-General issuing guidance to local government on communications in the three months prior to elections and Auckland Council incorporating these guidelines into policy, Mr McConnochie says.

The Auditor-General’s guidelines state that “access to Council resources for Members to issue media releases, in their capacities as official spokespersons, should be limited to what is strictly necessary to communicate Council business.”  

Yet in one of two press releases issued by Mayoral Media on Monday which included lines such as “’Last season, we welcomed 100 cruise ships to Auckland, bringing $116 million into the region’s economy,’ Len Brown said. ‘This has been our biggest season ever and $2million over forecast.’”

Mr McConnochie says such quotes are hard to reconcile with the OAG’s recommendation to limit such releases to “what is  strictly necessary”, particularly in this instance when the release relates to the performance of Auckland in attracting cruise ships, reflecting positively on Brown in the pre-election period.

Len Brown will do anything to avoid scrutiny. He knows that even of the Office of the Auditor-General acts it will be long after the election, likely will result in a slap on the hand with a wet bus ticket.

It is the same reason his office and the council are sitting on dozens of LGOIMA requests and refusing to answer them. Simply put the penalties and ability of authorities to actually penalise him are so light as to be almost non-existant. They certainly won’t prevent him being elected or the result being overturned and so like many Labour politicians before him he simply ignores the law.

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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. 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 who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

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

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.