John Palino: 'I don't play dirty'

John Palino
John Palino

The gloves are already off in the fight for Auckland's mayoralty, and the bell hasn't even rung yet.

Restaurateur John Palino announced he'll be standing again, and immediately started fending off jabs from the media.

It was the first time Mr Palino has addressed the media since his last mayoral campaign ended in controversy.

But when it came to facing the media, the charm was turned off; his best form of defence was to attack.

"I don't play dirty," he said. "You know there's nothing in my closet that anybody's talking about is there, only lies."

In 2013, Mr Palino was standing for mayor when his campaign team was accused of dirty politics, of leaking information about Len Brown's affair with Bevan Chuang.

"Look I don't know why people are going on about that," said Mr Palino. "I wasn't the one caught with his pants down in the Ngati Whatua Room. Next question please."

The American businessman says he only found out about the affair at the same time as everybody else.

"There's no dirty politics in my campaign, but let me tell you something: If you want to talk about dirty politics, it was Len's team that actually got them to turn the media on to me. That's dirty politics."

He went into hiding, but now says that was nothing to do with the dirty politics saga.

"I didn't run away; I was out of the country, doing business in Connecticut."

Mr Palino firmly denies he was the person who got Ms Chuang to declare her relationship with Mr Brown after a late-night meeting at an Auckland carpark.

"I did not know she had a relationship with the mayor. Why would I have someone on my team who was having a relationship with the mayor? We discussed opening a Chinese restaurant."

Mr Palino is back in the limelight, but if today was anything to go by, his campaign is going to be a long fight.