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Daughters back under-fire Auckland Mayor

Thursday 17 Oct 2013 8:36 a.m.

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The daughters of Auckland Mayor Len Brown are standing by him after he admitted having a two-year extramarital affair.

In an open letter to the New Zealand Herald, Sam Brown says she and her sisters, Olivia and Victoria, are proud of the job he has done and continue to support him.

"Dad has given, and will continue to give, his all to this job and serve the people and community with a passion of 100 percent," she said.

"Let the issue of fidelity be a personal one. He was not elected as a husband or father but as a man who could serve the people of Auckland."

Ms Brown said the family is going through a challenging time, "but we continue to see the great work he has done and are so proud to call him our dad".

Earlier this week, Mr Brown admitted having an affair with 32-year-old Bevan Chuang, who is on the Auckland Council's Ethnic Peoples Advisory Panel.

Ms Chuang unsuccessfully stood in Saturday's local body elections for a seat on the Albert-Eden Local Board, running on the right-leaning Community and Residents ticket.

She told the Herald she felt pressured to go public with the affair by a member of right-wing mayoral candidate John Palino's campaign team.

Ms Chuang says she was in an intimate relationship with Luigi Wewege, who was part of the rival mayoral campaign team, who urged her to reveal Mr Brown's infidelity when he found out about the affair.

"Luigi started pursuing non-stop about how I should tell on Len," Ms Chuang said.

"I was asked to record phone calls because that's when Len would say all the dirty stuff."

Mr Palino was Mr Brown's strongest opponent and his campaign manager was former National Party president John Slater.

Cameron Slater, who broke the story, is John Slater's son.

The Whaleoil blogger is defending the decision to publish the story, saying he had received threatening texts warning him not to.

Cameron Slater said normally he agreed the private lives of New Zealand politicians were treated as sacrosanct, but that Mr Brown had conducted his affair from his office, used official functions to entertain Ms Chuang, and had paraded his family before the cameras.

"But what removed all doubt from my mind is when anonymous text messages were being sent to me, my family, contacts and friends that threatened repercussions if I published this story. I decided to hold it back until after the election result," he said on his website.

Appearing on Firstline this morning, political commentators Mike Williams and Bill Ralston said Mr Brown will probably survive the scandal.

"Len is going to come through this unless anything else comes out," says Mr Ralston. "Unless he's found to be doing anything else he shouldn't be doing, he'll survive this."

"It's wonderfully interesting to people, but probably doesn't add up to much politically," says Mr Williams, former Labour Party president.

"I think this is a matter of Len's private life. I think he's behaved foolishly, but I think he'll survive."

Mr Ralston says Mr Brown's quick admission, once the story broke, helped blunt the scandal's impact.

"In PR terms he's handled it very well. He came up early, he admitted it.

"He was a bit evasive with John Campbell about anything else that might come out… but on what we know now, Len will survive. On what might happen, if more comes out it's anyone's guess."

Mr Brown was re-elected Auckland Mayor on the weekend with a 55,000 majority.

3 News / NZN

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