McKay too smart for Brown

Word on the street around Auckland is that Len Brown is looking for a lawyer who will agree with him that Doug McKay improperly called for the investigation.

The report by all accounts is dreadful for Brown but his camp feel confident that they can try to marginalise the process by which McKay initiated then prosecuted the inquiry.

They may even try to injunct the report coming out which would be truly stupid, but then again he conducted a two year affair inside the mayoral office, so I guess stupid is as stupid does.

However Fran O’Sullivan explains carefully how Doug McKay has appeared to outsmart Len Brown by keeping the Auditor-General informed of every step.

Auditor-General Lyn Provost is keeping a watching brief on Auckland Council chief executive Doug McKay’s review of Mayor Len Brown’s possible use of council resources during his two-year affair with Bevan Chuang.

Impeccable sources have confirmed to me that Provost has been in frequent close contact with McKay since he appointed top accounting firm Ernst & Young to undertake the review on his behalf.

It has clearly been a testing brief for McKay to effectively investigate his own boss. Insiders have correctly described the process as involving a good deal of “negotiation” between the mayor’s office and McKay’s executive suite to gain access to the information necessary for Ernst & Young to do a credible job.

McKay has been receiving advice from Crown Solicitor Simon Moore, whose warrant covers the greater Auckland area. Brown has his own legal adviser.  

The fact that Len Brown even has a lawyr suggests the report is bad, now the whispers of injunctions and attacking McKKay on process just smacks of desperation. Then again when you have lost everything including your family, then the only thing left is your job, even if you simply can’t do it anymore, you may as well fight.

McKay will not be around to deal with the aftermath of the Ernst & Young report as he steps down as Auckland Council chief executive at the end of the month.

But it is a sad note for him to go out on after the enormous workload he has shouldered over the past three years following the merger of seven Auckland local authorities and organisations into the Auckland Council.

The Ernst & Young (now known as EY) report went to Brown’s office at the weekend for factual accuracy checks under the usual “natural justice” provisions involving such inquiries.

It is not yet clear whether Provost’s watching brief will end with the EY report’s publication, which sources suggest is expected this week but might yet face another delay.

The report is already three weeks past deadline.

Time for some sunlight.

The EY review has been directed to examine whether Chuang received improper preferential treatment as an employee, contractor or adviser within the broader Auckland Council group.

And, if there was any use of council resources within the office of the mayor, in respect of the mayor’s relationship with Chuang, that contravened council policies (for example payments and procurement).

There are the usual broad terms of reference opening the door for EY to probe any other other issues that “the reviewers or chief executive consider relate to, or arise out of, the above matters”.

But when boiled down the fundamental issue is whether Brown has complied with the Auckland Council’s own code of conduct. How he managed the obvious conflict of interest posed by his affair with Chuang, who was a member of the ethnic advisory panel and for whom he wrote a reference to help her secure a job with the Auckland Art Gallery. There is also the alleged use of freebies from hotels to hold his trysts with his former mistress.

It is fundamentally as simply as that.

There has been a great deal of speculation – some of it obviously unfounded – over a Hong Kong Government-funded trip that Brown took in January.

The Hong Kong trip should clearly have been disclosed by Brown and his office as it was an official visit. Bizarrely, it wasn’t.

This has further damaged Brown as council policies require timely disclosure.

And Fran O’Sullivan has unwittingly outed another lie from Len Brown. He said in responses to LGOIMA requests that he never went to China…but lookee here:

It was a typical five-day visitor programme jam-packed with meetings organised by Hong Kong Government officials. Among items on the mayor’s itinerary: meetings with Joseph Lai (Permanent Secretary for Transport and Housing), whom the mayor wished to talk with about latest developments in Hong Kong’s transport system; Iris Tamm who is managing director of Hong Kong’s Urban Renewal Authority; visits to the Legislative Council, the Hong Kong container terminal and airport authorities; talks with the director of planning; Andrew Wong (Permanent Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development); briefings by the solicitor-general on Hong Kong’s rule of law; briefings on Hong Kong’s position as an international finance centre; and a meeting with Julie Mu from the Independent Commission against Corruption on Hong Kong’s anti-corruption policies.

Along the way there was a side trip to Shenzhen to visit Huawei.

Len Brown is a proven liar an manipulator. He tells some inquirers one thing and media another.

This was a very good article from Fran O’Sullivan that further painted Len Brown into a corner. She and Rodney Hide are right, he’s a busted flush, time to resign Len Brown.

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