Auckland Mayor Len Brown will not say if he has received free
hotel rooms as pressure mounts on him to come clean on
overnight stays in the city.
The use of hotel rooms by Mr Brown is believed to be at the
centre of a legal wrangle holding up the release of the Ernst
& Young (now EY) report into use of council resources
during the mayor's extra-marital affair with Bevan Chuang.
When the Herald asked Mr Brown if he had received free
accommodation at Auckland hotels during his time as mayor, a
spokesman said he was not commenting on any aspect of the
review while it was ongoing.
The silence on the issue prompted right-wing councillor Dick
Quax to liken the latest twist in the mayoral sex scandal to
Mr Brown's actions when he was mayor of Manukau.
Mr Quax, a former Manukau city councillor, said Mr Brown had
enjoyed countless coffees and lunches on his council credit
card, paid for by some of the poorest people in the country.
"It seems that his entitlement mentality has not changed. He
has no reason to stay overnight in a hotel when he has a car
and driver at his disposal 24/7," Mr Quax said.
Mr Brown has denied claims by Ms Chuang that some of the
rooms he booked for the pair at the Langham, SkyCity Grand
and Hilton hotels for sex were freebies, saying he paid for
any private accommodation.
Rooms at SkyCity Grand start at about $200 and rise to
$400-plus for a suite.
The Herald understands Mr Brown was not impressed when the
first draft of the EY report raised his use of hotel rooms
outside his stays with Ms Chuang.
The mayor is known to have used hotel rooms when he had
late-night and early-morning commitments in the city, which
came up as part of the EY review.
If Mr Brown did receive free hotel rooms, he would be obliged
to declare them in the register of members' interests if the
value was more than $300. He made no declarations for
hospitality in the 2012 declarations of interest.
Yesterday, the marketing and communication manager for the
Langham, Veronica Johnston, said "We don't discuss our
guests". The duty manager at the Hilton did not return a
phone message, but the hotel previously said it would not
give complimentary rooms to Mr Brown. The SkyCity Grand does
not comment on guests for privacy reasons.
Mr Brown is taking legal advice after being handed a draft
copy of the EY review to ensure it is factually accurate and
Before Mr Brown won the Super City mayoralty in 2010 he was
embroiled in a scandal over the use of his council credit
card as mayor of Manukau City.
He admitted making personal purchases, including a $148 mini
hi-fi system and $316 for a family event at Auckland's
Rendezvous Hotel. He reimbursed the council for personal
spending of $638.27.
Len Brown in the spotlight
June 2010: As Mayor of Manukau, Brown admits personal
spending on council card, reimburses $638.27.
October 2013: Two-year affair revealed.
November 2013: Brown does not comply with code of conduct
over trip to Hong Kong.
December 2013: Brown's hotel use shrouded in secrecy.
- Bernard Orsman of the New Zealand Herald