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Questions over covert taxpayer funding of Labour's Wellington mayoral campaign

The Taxpayers’ Union has been leaked an email from a senior Labour Party insider which appears to reveal that the Labour Party have used taxpayer money to produce a promotional video of Wellington’s controversial Deputy Mayor, and mayoral candidate, Justin Lester.

The email suggests that Labour’s Whip's Office, which is funded via the Parliamentary Service, produced a promotional video for Mr Lester and his campaign.

It appears that the Labour Party is using taxpayer funded Parliamentary resources to further the political aspirations of one of their Party’s local body candidates. That money is meant for serving parliamentary constituents, not to be used as a local body political slush fund.

We are calling on the Labour Party leader, Andrew Little, to clarify what is going on. He needs to get to the bottom of this email and ensure that no taxpayer resources have been misappropriated.

Unlike most government agencies Parliamentary Services is not covered by the Official Information Act. That means it falls on Mr Little to be taking steps to ensure his staff haven’t misappropriated resources for Mr Lester’s campaign. Failing that, the Speaker is likely to intervene.

We also understand Mr Lester’s campaign manager is Hayden Munro. Back in 2013, Mr Munro was unlawfully paid from Parliamentary Services as a Labour Party staffer while he was working on the Christchurch East by-election campaign. At the time an ‘admin error’ was blamed and the money was paid back.

This isn’t the first time the Taxpayers’ Union has had reason to question Justin Lester. Mr Lester is heavily involved in the secrecy of a Wellington Council ratepayer funded corporate welfare slush fund and, despite being a vocal supporter of the Council implementing a ‘living wage’, failed to answer questions regarding the pay of staff at his Kapai sandwich bars.


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