Politics

Ross releases donation texts with National

Jami-Lee Ross has released a text message exchange with National Party general manager Greg Hamilton, discussing the donations at the centre of the scandal that has engulfed the party.

The messages do not appear to provide a smoking gun, but show the party was aware that there could be problems with the way the donations were recorded. 

Ross’ evidence still falls short of definitively proving that the eight donations at the centre of the scandal were in fact artificially divided pieces of a $100,000 donation from Chinese businessman Zhang Yikun, and that the donation was broken up at the request of National leader Simon Bridges to avoid public disclosure requirements. 

Ross sent the first message at 4pm on September 12, telling Hamilton he had received a message asking him to track down the individual donors.

“I am unable to do this,” Ross wrote.

“I was advised the names and addresses for the donors. I’ve passed them on. I don’t know them individually though."

He said it was the first time he had been asked to to track down donors, asking Hamilton if the issue was "a sticking point".

“We do require by law to have a name and address. In this case many of the addresses provided don’t match what is on the electoral role [sic]."

Hamilton replied, saying the details were needed to comply with electoral law requirements. 

“We do require by law to have a name and address. In this case many of the addresses provided don’t match what is on the electoral role [sic],” Hamilton wrote.

Hamilton said he would track down the original donors if Ross could provide him with phone numbers. 

Ross replied to Hamilton, saying that it was Bridges who organised the donation and the Botany MP had been "just tasked with collecting it."

He then said Westpac could probably return the donations if Hamilton felt the law had not been complied with.

Hamilton said that would be "a shame", saying he would talk to whoever he needed to in order to match the donors do the electoral roll.

"Best we do that now as opposed to when audit takes place on the annual donation return," he wrote.

Ross then said he would find out who had provided the donors' names and addresses.

Eight donations, not one - National

In a statement, National Party president Peter Goodfellow said Ross's Botany electorate had received eight donations, not one, with Ross declaring all eight to the party. Goodfellow said he would not comment further.

On Wednesday, he did not answer specific questions from Newsroom about what if anything the party did to verify the legality of the donations and the identity of the donors, citing the need for the police investigation to run its course. However, he said National "believes it has acted 100 percent appropriately in relation to the donations in question".

In a text message to media sharing details of the conversation, Ross said he had no comment to make on Newsroom's account of four women's experiences with him, adding he was considering his legal options.

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