Earlier this week I requested Marie Shroff, the Chair of the Electoral Commission Board, to investigate the election expenses return of Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel. I was informed it was not possible for the Electoral Commission to launch such an investigation and to direct the request to the Christchurch City Council Electoral Officer, Jo Daly.
Hence I have sent the letter below to Jo Daly this afternoon.
19 December 2019
Christchurch City Council Electoral Officer
Kia ora Ms Daly,
Request for inquiry into the 2019 and 2016 election expenses return of
Christchurch City Mayor Lianne Dalziel
I am writing to request an investigation into the 2019 and 2016 local body election expenses returns of Christchurch City Mayor Lianne Dalziel.
I wrote to the Electoral Commission earlier this week requesting an investigation, but they informed me they are unable to do so and that I should approach the local Electoral Officer. Hence this letter.
You will be aware of publicity around the mayor’s failure to follow the provisions of the Electoral Act when filing her election expenses return. She has blamed her husband for failing to follow the law as the reason her initial return was a breach of the Act.
I believe the mayor’s explanation is not credible. She was in attendance at the fundraising event in 2019 where several donations were received for her campaign which were well above the $1500 limit which requires identification of the donors and yet she signed off her expenses return saying she had received just two donations above $1500.
Lianne Dalziel herself is a lawyer who has been involved in dozens of election campaigns over many years. It is simply not possible to believe her explanation and it seems clear she chose to not identify her major donors for political reasons rather than follow electoral law.
The donations that were previously hidden are highly significant. For several years New Zealanders have been rightly concerned at the influence of overseas individuals and companies making political donations with the expectation they will receive some favourable treatment in return. One of her major donors I understand is living overseas and does not have New Zealand citizenship.
Lianne Dalziel used the same format in submitting her election return in 2016 and it seems likely this return will similarly be in breach of the Electoral Act so I believe this must also be investigated.
If there is anything in this letter which is not clear or requires clarification then please let me know and I will be happy to expand and explain.
In the meantime I look forward to hearing from you.