Normally I call these posts winners and losers but in this case there are far more losers than winners. Let’s take them in approximate order.
Len Brown. May keep his job but not his credibility or dignity. If he holds on he is a lame duck Mayor who will face three years of people tittering about him at public events. No real chance of winning a third term. Faces weeks or more of investigations into whether there was improper spending, his providing a reference to Chuang etc.
Luigi Wewege. Exposed as a liar, and someone who uses a romantic relationship to pressure his partner into political favours. Now a household name in a bad way. Political future is non-existent.
Bevan Chuang. She’s had her criminal history exposed, her love life, and her employment history, Worse, she did it all voluntarily with a giggling tape recording of her exploits with Brown, and a sworn affidavit. While she attracts a lot of sympathy as being somewhat naive, she also has no political future.
Jock Anderson. Fired as NBR Chief Reporter for writing an editorial supporting Brown keeping his job against alleged instructions for NBR to take a neutral line on the issue.
John Palino. Palino has done nothing wrong, and I do not believe for a second he knew anything of this. However the actions of Wewege have created a perception that will leave doubts with some. An unfortunate victim, who might have been Mayor if the affair had been exposed before the election.
The threatening texter. The person who sent the threatening text to Chuang pushed this issue into the open. A huge backfire. Will their identity be revealed, and who may they damage by association when it comes out?
- The voters of Auckland. They have to wait three years (unless Brown resigns) to have their say on whether they found the behaviour acceptable.
Cameron Slater. As the Civilian points out Whale likes nothing more than page views and visits. He’s had 750,000 page views in two days. He not only broke the story, but covered himself by insisting on tape recordings and sworn affidavits. Cameron doesn’t want to be liked – he wants to be relevant, and this week he has set the news.
Cameron Brewer. Brewer wisely didn’t contest the 2013 Mayoral elections. He must now be a front-runner for 2016.
- Penny Hulse. She doesn’t want the job, but if Brown resigns she is the most likely candidate for the left, and could well end up Mayor. Will depend who stands against her.
In terms of the story itself, the Herald reports:
Bevan Chuang is confident Len Brown will be cleared by a spending inquiry in the wake of their extra-marital affair, saying he paid for everything out of his own pocket.
However, she believed that some of the rooms he booked for the pair were offered free of charge by hotel managers. …
Ms Chuang said she met Mr Brown three times at the Langham, SkyCity Grand and Hilton hotels for sex after collecting the keys to the rooms from reception at the Town Hall.
A spokeswoman for the Hilton said the hotel would not give complimentary rooms to Mr Brown, while a spokeswoman for SkyCity Grand would not comment on guests for privacy reasons. A spokesman for the Langham did not return a phone message. …
The 32-year-old former mistress said: “He sometimes takes some time off and goes to hotel rooms, and quite a few times managers would tell him ‘it’s fine,
it’s on us. We can organise somewhere private for you’.
“He often feels uncomfortable and wanted to go down and pay but usually the manager would [insist] ‘no no, it’s on us’.”
The rooms also came with antipasto food platters and nuts, she said.
Ms Chuang believed the rooms were offered free to Mr Brown so that he could “talk about” and “recommend it” for council patronage.
I think the only thing which might be worse than having had the Council pay for hotel rooms for the trysts with your mistress, was if the hotels were providing free rooms for the trysts. It’s like he’s the Prime Minister of Italy.
Just imagine if Sky City were providing free hotel rooms for Mayoral trysts, at the same time as Len Brown was backing the convention centre deal with them? Hard to argue that is not a public issue.
Mr Brown would check-in at the hotel himself and then arrange for a spare room key to be delivered back to the council in an envelope addressed to Ms Chuang.
Ms Chuang, who also speaks Cantonese and Mandarin, claimed Mr Brown used the mayoral car and driver to pick up and drop her off on two occasions when he took her to council dinners as his interpreter.
Again, hard to argue that this isn’t use of Council resources.
In another story the Herald reports:
Auckland Mayor Len Brown and council chief executive Doug McKay are refusing to answer key questions arising from the mayor’s extra-marital affair with Bevan Chuang, including whether he breached the council’s code of conduct.
The two most powerful figures at the council have stonewalled the Herald for two days on whether Mr Brown has broken council rules and what the rules are for council staff having sex in the workplace. …
Mr Brown and Mr McKay also refused to say if Ms Chuang had a council contract at the New Lynn market. She claimed to be paid $500 a week by the council as a co-ordinator at the market.
So if I have this right:
- Chuang was a Mayoral appointee to the Ethnic Panel – personally appointed and re-appointed by the Mayor
- Chuang gained a job at a Council CCO after the Mayor provided her with a glowing reference
- Chuang has a Council contract as a market co-ordinator
Again, makes it very hard to argue this is entirely a private matter.
Len Brown and council chief executive Doug McKay have yet to answer the following:
- Did [Mr Brown's actions providing a reference for Bevan Chuang] comply with the Council Code of Conduct, including the Conflicts of Interest Policy and the guidelines of the Office of the Auditor-General?
- Did the mayor seek advice from the chief executive or the Office of the Auditor-General before deciding to provide a reference or act as a referee?
- Did the mayor provide any other references/act as a referee for Ms Chuang on other occasions?
- Has Ms Chuang been contracted by the council in any other capacity, including the New Lynn market?
- What are the rules around council staff having sex in the workplace?
Len’s now cancelled all appointments for two days in a row. The story will not go away until he fully fronts, and these questions are answered.
Political commentator David Farrar posts at Kiwiblog.