The Dim-Post

June 23, 2014

Guessing the story behind the Liu story

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 10:55 am

We know a couple of things. Here’s the Herald’s first story about Donghua Liu’s donations to Labour:

A wealthy Auckland businessman, whose links to the National Party led to a minister’s resignation, also made a secret $15,000 donation to the Labour Party – and hosted a Cabinet minister at a lavish dinner in China.

The Labour Party has previously accused the Government of “cash for access” deals with Donghua Liu, who received citizenship after lobbying from National minister Maurice Williamson and whose hotel was later opened by Prime Minister John Key.

But the Herald can reveal Liu, 53, also paid $15,000 at a Labour Party auction in 2007 for a book signed by Helen Clark, the Prime Minister at the time, according to a party source.

The story was written by Jared Savage, who’s been very good at fronting on twitter to ask questions about his stories. This morning I asked him:

savage
Okay then. In the Herald on Sunday story in which the announcement of the $100,000 donation was made public we learned that the Herald’s story was based on a signed statement dated May 3rd, two days after Maurice Williamson’s resignation, which came after the revelation that he interfered in the police investigation of Liu. The Prime Minister stated on Thursday 19th of June that was aware of this second donation for ‘some weeks’ as well as the letter Cunliffe wrote on behalf of Liu back in 2003.

So there are two separate sources. One – the party source – went to the Herald with the story about a $15,000 donation. The other went and talked to Liu shortly after the Williamson resignation, obtained details of his dealings with Labour Party MPs, made the Prime Minister aware of this information but withheld it from the media for about five weeks, finally making it available to the Herald on Saturday 21st June – the Herald’s editor won’t say who provided it to him but it wasn’t Liu. So that’s not very mysterious.

Did this $100,000 donation take place? Labour have been very strong in their denials. I heard their party president claim on 3News that there was ‘no trace’, and that everyone would have remembered such a large donation. And Liu doesn’t seem totally reliable. It sounds as if his ‘$50,000 trip hosting Rick Barker on a cruise on the Yangtzee river’ was just a staff function for Liu’s company that Rick Barker attended.

On the other hand, on the Electoral Commission website we see these returns for 2007:

New Zealand Labour Party Palmer Theron, Solicitors, on behalf of an undisclosed client PO Box 2721717, Papakura 2244 150,000.00
New Zealand Labour Party Simpson Grierson, Barristers & Solicitors, on behalf of an undisclosed client Private Bag 92518, Auckland 50,000.00
New Zealand Labour Party Morrison Kent, Lawyers, on behalf of an undisclosed client PO Box 10035, Wellington 30,000.00

I asked Jared Savage if he’d asked Labour about these donations. He replied that there was no point since they were anonymous.  Graeme Edgeler clarified that the identity of the donor only had to be unknown by the party at the time the return was filed. It’s okay if they found out afterwards. Also, I basically do not believe that any political party would receive donations for $50,000 or $150,000 and have no idea where they came from, so it’d be good to hear from Labour if they could rule out that none of those donations came from Lui. It’s not very credible to insist that you have ‘no trace’ of a donation while simultaneously insisting that you don’t know who gave you $150,000.

Update: On RNZ:

Mr Barnet dismissed a suggestion that a $150,000 anonymous donation made in 2007 via the law firm Palmer Theron might cover the Liu claims.

“What we’ve done is to check Donghua Liu’s lawyer whether he has a link with any of the three law firms through which we receive donations and there’s no link that we can see. The allegation is that he paid at an auction $100,000 – you wouldn’t pay $100,000 as an anonymous donation through a lawyer.”

The editor-in-chief of the Herald on Sunday says it stands by its decision to publish a statement from Mr Liu about donations to the Labour Party.

Editor-in-chief Tim Murphy said there were dates and other aspects of Mr Liu’s statement the paper needed to clarify, but said the Herald verified the signed statement was from the businessman.

He said it was yet to be seen whether Mr Lui’s claims were correct, but said he would not hand the statement to Labour.

If the Herald can’t substantiate anything the heat is going to go on them to release the statement. You can’t make allegations like this on your front page in an election year and then refuse to provide any evidence which might help the subject of the story defend themselves.

28 Comments »

  1. Except that this has all got so far from the original “gotcha” that National played on Labour with assistance from members of the gallery, that I’m not sure what we’re even supposed to be proving.

    Except if the point of this is to show that the man who made a National cabinet minister commit an offence worthy of resignation also gave money to Labour. This taints Labour’s somewhat successful wedge issues of National being not for the common man/woman/family. National don’t have to win this. They only have to not lose.

    National’s trump is the economy. They lose that trump the moment the “economy” starts being defined in terms of winners (property speculators, those who feed from the udder of a cow) and losers (renters, Christchurch residents, people who use electricity). You have to hand it to the Prime Minister’s strategic and media teams. Professionals.

    Comment by George — June 23, 2014 @ 11:06 am

  2. Danyl, Labour have NOT been very strong in their denials at all. They have said they cannot find it or have no record of it. None of them (with the exception of the lunatics at the standard and the real estate agents blog) have denied it in any way shape or form.
    Your assertion falls over at that point.
    They will not deny it because they cannot.
    The dancing on the head of a pin by the left is amazing to watch. I now feel sorry for Cunliffe over this. I don’t for a minute think he trousered any of the cash. He doesn’t need it. But the team that were milking the Asian visa hunters through the nine years Labour were in power all seem to be coming down with advanced cases of dementia.
    Nobody else has mentioned Steven Ching yet, and a couple of other fixers who are still donkey deep in the war room. Barker has denied everything that has been put to him, until a photo or statement appears and then he changes to the cannot recall answer. Mike Williams had it put to him two Sundays ago and couldn’t muster the balls to deny it instead claiming if there was a donation it never reached head office.
    The only Labour person who has been forthright in their answers is Cunliffe, and look where that got him. Poor mug.

    Comment by Barnsley Bill — June 23, 2014 @ 11:07 am

  3. Perhaps you need to (re?)listen to this Danyl – http://www.radionz.co.nz/audio/player/2600632

    Tim Barnett specifically says they approached the lawyers involved with this donation and could find no connection with any lawyer or law firm that is linked to Donghua Liu.

    The allegation is Donghua Liu paid $100,000 IN AN AUCTION for a bottle of wine. NOT that he made an anonymous donation. This $150K amount being questioned is simply Danyl – yet again – sloppily repeating National party talking points.

    The Herald story stinks, and Donghua Lius account does not add up when the detail is scrutinised. It is, simply, Tim Murphy and the Herald repeating a National Party smear that they have uncritically run because they were so busy jizzing over their keyboards at the idea of a juicy “gotcha” that they forgot they are meant to be journalists, not the publishing wing of Whaleoil.

    “…National don’t have to win this. They only have to not lose…”

    And how easy was it? The Prime Ministers office basically wrote the Herald’s story for them, and the Herald gleefully published it, because that is what mates do.

    Comment by Sanctuary — June 23, 2014 @ 11:19 am

  4. Sanctuary, this is easily solved. A senior Labour person simply needs to state publicly that the donor is lying and he never gave any money to labour.
    Don’t hold your breath.

    Comment by Barnsley Bill — June 23, 2014 @ 11:30 am

  5. The buerden of proof is you, big mouth. Put up or shut up.

    Comment by Sanctuary — June 23, 2014 @ 11:32 am

  6. “Danyl, Labour have NOT been very strong in their denials at all. They have said they cannot find it or have no record of it. ”

    yeah i wonder why barnsey – nothing to do with you guys attacking cunliffe a few days ago for providing the same response you are asking for now?

    “The only Labour person who has been forthright in their answers is Cunliffe, and look where that got him. Poor mug.”

    oh look you answered your own question

    also maybe key and his other rumor mongers could actually provide some substance that can then be acted upon? Or is this trial by private girls school the default setting these days for the national party and media?

    Comment by framu — June 23, 2014 @ 11:34 am

  7. Mike Smith has just pointed out that if Lui donated equally to all Govts, then the National Party needs to find a whole lot of money…because it hasn’t declared it.

    Comment by Peter Martin — June 23, 2014 @ 11:40 am

  8. “yeah i wonder why barnsey”.
    Wonder no more. They are not issuing full throated denials because they don’t know who else knows.. Makes no sense. Neither does the lab strategy on this.
    If they are confident in their position they can shut this down by noon today.
    Meanwhile, I wonder if anybody has doorstepped Steven Ching yet?

    Comment by Barnsley Bill — June 23, 2014 @ 11:41 am

  9. “…because they don’t know who else knows…”

    Psychic are we, Barnsley? Now trundle off back to the retirement home of nominister with the rest of the superannuated angry old men.

    Comment by Sanctuary — June 23, 2014 @ 11:47 am

  10. “They are not issuing full throated denials because they don’t know who else knows.. Makes no sense”

    considering theres no evidence and just a unsubstantiated accusation from the PM what exactly are the meant to do then?

    and the point i was making is that your daming the labour party for not reacting in the same way that resulted in you lot attacking cunliffe only a few days ago.

    you can do that all you want but people will notice

    Comment by framu — June 23, 2014 @ 12:24 pm

  11. The date muddle is the story in microcosm – in all its absurdity.

    First, the Herald (or its source) claim a specific date.

    Then, they suggest the date could have been misunderstood – different ordering of numbers.

    So, if they want to know the date, they could either (a) check with Liu or his spokesperson. Because they would know, right? “A hundred grand went out of your account, could you tell us when?”.

    Or (b) say Labour should check ALL dates, all donations, just in case. And then say “Nothing yet? Well, just keep looking”.

    (a) is the obvious and rational choice, if you really do want answers. But (b) does more damage to Labour. They can’t prove a negative, nobody can – that’s Logic 101.

    The Herald is making its preference pretty clear – and it’s politics, not journalism.

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — June 23, 2014 @ 1:17 pm

  12. “If the Herald can’t substantiate anything the heat is going to go on them to release the statement. You can’t make allegations like this on your front page in an election year and then refuse to provide any evidence which might help the subject of the story defend themselves.”

    Yeah right. It seems that the Herald is perfectly happy to do just that. What’s the worse that can happen? People will stop buying their papers? That’s already happening. Legal action from Labour? If if Labour did go down that path, by the time it gets through the courts the election will be a distant memory and Labour would have already been damaged.

    Comment by wtl — June 23, 2014 @ 1:47 pm

  13. The Herald reported all KDC’s unsubstantiated allegations against Key.

    It really is just the cognitive dissonance of tribal politics. The meaning of events is a consequence of political allegiance.

    Comment by NeilM — June 23, 2014 @ 2:14 pm

  14. The Herald reported all KDC’s unsubstantiated allegations against Key.

    As fact? Go on, give one example.

    Or read the Herald’s Liu story again.

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — June 23, 2014 @ 2:19 pm

  15. Everyone’s being so mean to Labour

    Comment by NeilM — June 23, 2014 @ 2:24 pm

  16. I’m wondering whether the Labour leadership could sue Liu, the Herald and maybe John Key for defamation. You can defame a group of people if its small enough.

    Comment by richdrich — June 23, 2014 @ 2:35 pm

  17. NeilM: So you can’t find an example of KDC’s allegations being presented as anything other than allegations and instead decide to avoid the conversation act like a five year old.

    Comment by wtl — June 23, 2014 @ 2:37 pm

  18. Typical NeilM bullshit.

    Pete George 2.0

    Comment by Rob — June 23, 2014 @ 3:56 pm

  19. A senior Labour person simply needs to state publicly that the donor is lying and he never gave any money to labour.

    Have you stopped beating your wife, Barnsley Bill?

    Comment by Gregor W — June 23, 2014 @ 4:00 pm

  20. It been said elsewhere but: I gave $200,000 to the National Party in 2010. Prove that I did or prove that I did not. It is obvious that National are lying and hiding my donation because it would show how much I got for my Dollars. Prove it!

    Comment by xianmac — June 23, 2014 @ 4:56 pm

  21. The Herald presented Liu’s allegations just like they presented KDC’s.

    The Herald also pulled no punched over Collins and Williamson.

    And what about the cabinet club business? Surely Labour would never do anything similar such actuioning:

    a “catered private dinner with prime minister the Rt Hon Helen Clark”, to provide “a unique opportunity for intimate conversation around the table with the nation’s highest elected official,

    Moral high ground anyone?

    But hey, it’s all just bullshit

    Comment by NeilM — June 23, 2014 @ 5:48 pm

  22. The Herald also pulled no punched over Collins and Williamson.

    The Herald treated stories about actual intervention in support of wealthy donors by actual serving cabinet ministers as seriously as it’s treating some claims about donations that don’t involve any kind of wrongdoing even in the unlikely event they turn out not to be idle boasts? Well, yeah – that’s kind of, well… exactly what’s pissing off the people on this thread, isn’t it?

    Comment by Psycho Milt — June 23, 2014 @ 6:45 pm

  23. NeilM,

    You still haven’t specified exactly which of KDC’s “allegations” the Herald has “presented” “just like” it has Liu’s. Repeating a claim is not the same as substantiating it. Perhaps you could help move the thread on, rather than just clogging it up?

    Thanks in advance from everyone else who comments here.

    Comment by Flashing Light — June 23, 2014 @ 7:11 pm

  24. Ah but clogging threads is what NeilM does best. Duck gotta quack etc.

    Comment by Rob — June 23, 2014 @ 8:11 pm

  25. The level of personal abuse suggests Labour isn’t doing particularly well.

    The two things might be connected.

    Comment by NeilM — June 23, 2014 @ 9:06 pm

  26. Yes, Neil. It’s Labour, not you. It’s NEVER about you.

    Now … about Dotcom’s allegations presented just like Liu’s – going to follow up on that?

    Comment by Flashing Light — June 23, 2014 @ 9:55 pm

  27. And National still haven’t identified where in their returns the donation they received was shown . . .

    Comment by Ed — June 23, 2014 @ 11:03 pm

  28. The Herald On Sunday says ” stands by its decision to publish a statement by Mr Liu”

    Well he would say that, but its a pretty weak endorsement, no “standing by its story” or any thing definitive like that.

    Would it be likely they will fess up to publishing an untrue statement ? Hardly. The people wanting the story are too powerful for that to happen.

    Lets guess that a little more obscuring who said what and when will happen, JKs daily media cheat sheet has allready has him distancing himself, so the HoS cant be too far away

    Comment by ghostwhowalksnz — June 24, 2014 @ 4:45 pm


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