Well, well, well the person behind the Cathedral Club donation is the old Dirty Politics agent, Aaron Bhatnagar…
Jami-Lee Ross saga: Identity of ‘Cathedral Club’ donor revealed
The identity of the secret $10,000 ‘Cathedral Club’ donor has been revealed as Auckland millionaire and investor Aaron Bhatnagar, as details emerge linking National Party leader Simon Bridges to a group with that name.
Bhatnagar came forward this morning after NZ Herald inquiries tied the donation to a house in Upland Rd in Remuera.
The address was listed on the original donation declaration form which had been signed by Bridges, withdrawn and then submitted again without the Cathedral Club donation.
At the time the donation was made, the Upland Rd house was lived in and owned by millionaire investor Aaron Bhatnagar.
One of the many sordid “bit”-players in Nicky Hager’s book, “Dirty Politics“, and one of Cameron Slater’s inner-cabal, is businessman, National Party card-carrying cadre, and former city councillor, Aaron Bhatnagar;
In 2008, Bhatnagar was caught by journalist, blogger, and IT commentator, Russell Brown, posting derogatory comments on Wikipedia to smear political opponants;
Auckland City councillor Aaron Bhatnagar has been caught doctoring the online encyclopedia Wikipedia to paint his opponents in a bad light at last year’s local body elections.
Using the alias of Barzini _ a power-hungry psychopath from Mario Puzo’s novel The Godfather _ Mr Bhatnagar created entries for his Action Hobson opponents in the Hobson ward and made unflattering changes to the entry for Mayor Dick Hubbard.
After winning a council seat and watching Action Hobson councillors Christine Caughey and Richard Simpson go down to a C&R rout in Hobson, Mr Bhatnagar tried to remove the Wikipedia entries for his opponents at 3am the following morning.
Bhatnagar was also John Banks’ campaign manager in Banks’ unsuccessful 2010 mayoralty bid, and later himself stood National’s candidate selection process for Epsom for the 2011 general election. (He subsequently lost out to John Banks.)
But more than being a paid-up, card-carrying party apparatchik for National, Bhatnagar was part of far-right blogger, Cameron Slater’s inner sanctum.
In Nicky Hager’s expose, Bhatnagar’s dirty tricks – a re-hash of his 2008 Wiki exploits – is carefully laid out;
“Slater was in regular contact with his blogger friends Cathy Odgers, blog name Cactus Kate, Peter Smith (not his real name) and Aaron Bhatnagar, with whom he often talked over his attack plans...” – “Dirty Politics”, pg 20
“Slater got the tip-off for his biggest 2011 attack from his blogger friend Aaron Bhatnagar, a former Auckland city councillor and business investor who had written a guest post as ‘Whale Oil Business Correspondent Winslow Taggart‘, promoting ‘one of New Zealand’s best run’ retirement companies, Ryman Healthcare, in which he was a shareholder. Bhatnagar’s approach to politics is summed up by his own words to Slater: ‘I’m getting bored. I need mischief to keep me busy...’ ” – “Dirty Politics”, pg 29
“On another occassion he [Bhatnagar] asked Slater to help him find a ‘paparazzi photographer’ to ‘spook’ a lawyer outside his legal chambers.” – “Dirty Politics”, pg 29
“This time Bhatnagar had been sniffing around the Labour Party’s websites and stumbled across an insecure location containing gigabytes of sensitive party information, including lists of donors and supporters. In the middle of election year, this was embarrassing and potentially very harmful to the Labour Party. Bhatnagar passed the find on to his friend.” – “Dirty Politics”, pg 29
The following Facebook conversation between Cameron Slater and Bhatnagar showed the cavalier and unethical attitude both men had to Labour’s computer vulnerability;
Slater: That website info will hit soon. Watch the damage that ensues.
Bhatnagar: “I’ve been meaning to ask you! LOL [laugh out loud], when do you run it?
Slater: been working thru it all… was going to do it this week but Goff is away. Far better to do it when the putz is back
Slater: the most damaging is the 18000 emails, and the Credit card transactions
Bhatnagar: fuck me, I hadn’t been that forensic myself. This will be huge
Slater: got the whole of their email database
Bhatnagar: oh no, LOL…. this is violence writ large
Slater: I think some teaser videos of screenshots and stuff drip fed over a few days , then drop the bomb say wed morning so [Parliament’s Wednesday afternoon] general debate is awesome
… The media are far too lazy to do what i have already done… so prob best to package it into bite size pieces.
Bhatnagar: unreal. I knew there was heaps there, but I hadn’t actually leached it all. Credit card info? That’s insane. Labour will be ruined…
I’m sure Chaos and Mayhem Ltd [Slater and his friends] will find a way to use all this left wing online data
Slater: got First name, Last Name and email, in 3 files, main labour mail list
Bhatnagar: could set back the online left wing community for three years…. I’ve told no one
Slater: and don’t
Bhatnagar: I wouldn’t wreck what might potentially be your greatest story…. – “Dirty Politics”, pg 30, 31
At no point during that conversation does Bhatnagar even raise a question of ethics regarding Slater’s intentions to public data from the Labour Party computer. On the contrary, he is clearly supportive.
On 12 June 2011, Slater began publishing details from the Labour Party computer. As Nicky Hager related;
“The attack began on Sunday 12 June with an article Slater had arrangedin a Sunday newspaper. He simultaneously began publishing a series of posts on his blog with the tag line ‘Labour Leaks’, announcing a long list of ‘rorts’ that would be progressively ‘outed’ on his site over the following days…
… Early on that Sunday morning Bhartnagar contacted Slater again. Their conversation is very revealing. ‘And so it begins…,’ Bhatnagar wrote. ‘Yep and it is going to hurt,” Slater replied, ‘that document is devastating… this is going to be a feeding frenzy, especially when I publish all the credit card transactions, then the membership lists, then the 18000 emails’. Thinking of the media reaction, Bhatnagar advised Slater to ‘keep your phone charged then – you will need the battery life!’
Slater then set out in writing the motivations underlying the leaks. It would be, he said, ‘death by a 1000 leaks’.
I have… cross referenced names with letter writers. I will have the definitive list of labour activists.
it will shut down their donors, shut down their IT systems
shut down their membership flow
and shut down their online campaigns
Bhatnager joked back: ‘Join the Labour Party and the Whaleoil email loop at the same time. Not a compelling message for left wing voters.’ “Dirty Politics”, pg 33
As Nicky Hager pointed out, “the aim was not to expose poor Internet security or some wrong-doing or to prove a political point, but to do as much damage as possible to the Labour Party“. Clearly, Bhatnagar was revelling in Slater’s damaging attack on the Labour Party;
“Later that evening Bhatnagar got in touch as well, suggesting a celebration lunc: ‘yum char thursday midday”. Slater said he’d be there. Bhatnagar asked, ‘What’s next in the death by 1000 cuts?’ ‘I haven’t decided yet,’ Slater replied. “- “Dirty Politics”, pg 36
In fact, on one occassion, he positively gloated over it, as this exchange showed on 26 November 2011;
“… The anti-MMP campaign failed, but Slater felt empowered by his successes. ‘I feel like this election campaign has been mine, plus my loyal tipline submitters,’ he told Bhatnagar. ‘Well, I am tempted to say that ripping open Labour’s website was a big part of it,’ Bhatnagar replied.“- “Dirty Politics”, pg 75
…so on the day we find out that the Chinese business man who is claimed to have donated to Simon Bridges was nominated for a Queens Honour by National…
…we also learn the other donor was a Dirty Politics agent.
This is getting dirtier and nastier but this time around the sleepy hobbits of muddle Nu Zilind don’t have the laid back anti-intellectualism of John Key to absolve their conscience and ignore corruption, they have bumbling Simon Bridges. Key could look down the barrel of the camera and lie to our faces and the sleepy hobbits loved him for it, Simon can’t lie convincingly and they will turn on him.
National Party voters love a good liar, they detest a weak one.