Sounds suspiciously like Labour has “cash for access” schemes running as well

2

Items for auction at Labour fundraiser

Once again Labour has been caught out by their own hypocrisy.

In the series of rolling stories about Labour’s own donations scams the Herald’s Jared Savage covers the murky world of Steven Ching..and his very own “cash for access” system of fundraising.

The man who hoped to be the first Chinese MP for the Labour Party has emerged as a central figure in the donation claims of Donghua Liu.

Steven Ching was a successful fundraiser for Labour and was No42 on the party list ahead of the 2005 election, but withdrew.

The Herald can now reveal that the Auckland businessman, who organised dinners where guests donated $1000 to sit beside former Prime Minister Helen Clark, approached the office of David Cunliffe about Liu’s residency bid.

Mr Ching was not home and did not return messages, but Labour sources confirmed he was the “conduit” between Liu and the party.

When the Herald broke the news that Mr Cunliffe wrote a 2003 letter on behalf of Liu’s residency bid, the Labour leader said he did not recall having ever met the businessman.

“To the best of my knowledge that letter came through my office and an immigration agent on his behalf.”

Mr Cunliffe this week said “to the best of my knowledge” Mr Ching was not that agent. “However he appears to have had some contact at staff level with the New Lynn Electorate Office over the matter.”

Labour sources said Mr Ching had links to Liu and became the “conduit” between the party and the millionaire businessman. “Ching was the ‘money man’ responsible for organising the fundraising dinners and established a good relationship with Liu,” said one.

David Cunliffe is getting cautious…”to the best of my knowledge” is code for I have no bloody idea and I am hoping and praying that it isn’t the case.

Meanwhile he is expressing outrage on behalf of Rick Barker:

Mr Cunliffe said Mr Barker could “feel pretty aggrieved” about the $50,000 to $60,000 price tag estimated by Liu for the trip. He did not believe the figure was credible.

“I doubt that Mr Barker asked Mr Liu to take his entire company on a boat trip so it seems unfair if that was the cost, and who knows, to account it as a donation to Mr Barker or the Labour Party,” Mr Cunliffe said.

I don’t think we have heard the last about that trip down the Yangtze…but I cannot fathom why David Cunliffe is defending Rick Barker because when first asked about his involvement with Donghua Liu Rick Barker firstly lied, then provided some scant detail about a trip without telling us that Chongqing is 1800 km from Shanghai, which is a long way for a side trip…that is like saying you did a side trip to Sydney while visiting Auckland….and that the concrete factory he says he visited by happenstance is some 3 and half hours from Chongqing. He also omitted to tell us that he handed over a bottle of wine won by Donghua Liu at a fundraising auction and that he’d enjoyed a stay at a luxury lodge and pocketed a donation for his daughter’s rowing club while he was at it.

David Cunliffe maintains he is vindicated by the correction in statements from Donghua Liu but is still missing declarations of some $40,000 at least to the Labour party from Liu. Rick Barker himself should have declared his side trip and his entertainment in the pecuniary interest register at the very least. He didn’t but will escape sanction because he is no longer an MP and the details can’t be re-visited.

Labour played this game of gotcha politics against National but they failed to heed internal warnings from their fundraisers about attacking Donghua Liu. They only have themselves to blame…unless of course Grant Robertson, the man warned the most, deliberately carried on knowing that it would be their leader who would cop the heat and not him and Trevor Mallard who hurled most of the dirt.

 

– NZ Herald


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