Labour leader David Cunliffe has revealed at least one of
the donors to his campaign for the Labour leadership had
approached him directly with an offer, but maintained he did
not know the identities of any of the donors to his campaign
until three said they were willing to be named yesterday.
Mr Cunliffe yesterday released the names of three donors who
gave a total of $9500 to a trust set up for his leadership
campaign last year, but said he had not known who the donors
were until recently after the trustee, Greg Presland, advised
him they were willing to be named publicly.
Another two donors had refused to be named and would have
their donations, totalling $8300, returned to them.
He said the trust, called the TR Trust, was set up partly so
that he would not know who had donated. But he admitted at
least one donor - Chicago-based Perry Keenan - had approached
him directly to offer a donation. He had told Mr Keenan to
discuss it with Mr Presland, and said he was never told
whether the donation had been made.
Mr Cunliffe also said he did not know who the two donors who
had refused to be publicly named were.
Prime Minister John Key said that was not credible and he
should name the two donors. "Clearly there is something going
on about people who gave money but know if their identity is
in the public domain, that would be very untidy for the
Mr Cunliffe apologised to his caucus for a "lapse in
judgment" by using the trust. Labour MP Shane Jones has
listed his donors in the register for Pecuniary Interests,
but that will not be released publicly for up to three
Mr Cunliffe initially refused to confirm a trust was used for
his campaign when the Herald asked about it early this week.
It allows him to avoid disclosing individual donations in the
Register for Pecuniary Interests. After admitting to using a
trust a day later, he said it was "common practice" in
politics and was not illegal. Yesterday he said he had asked
the trustee to check whether the donors would be named and to
return donations to any who would not. Asked if he would have
taken the step of voluntary disclosure today had it not been
for media pressure,
he said he had been reflecting on it over the last week.
"I don't think in hindsight that a trust structure fully
represented the values I would like to bring to this
leadership. Decisions that were made to set up the trust
could have been better. I have learned from that and am now
making sure I do whatever I can to ensure transparency."
The TR Trust will be listed in Mr Cunliffe's return to the
Register of Pecuniary Interests under the "discharged debts"
section, which requires disclosure of debts the MPs owe which
are paid by a trust.
Mr Presland said he did not wish to comment.
- Claire Trevett of the New Zealand Herald