NZ Election 2020: Electoral Commission clears NZ Public Party of wrongdoing over donations

The Electoral Commission won't be taking action against the NZ Public Party (NZPP), saying because it's not an actual registered political party, it is not subject to the usual spending rules.

The party made a $65,633 donation to Jami-Lee Ross' party Advance, which it's teamed up with to contest the election in October. That donation was declared by Advance.

A complaint was made to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) about the arrangement, and how the Public Party has been handling donations. NZPP leader Billy Te Kahika even admitted not knowing exactly how much cash had been collected, keeping it in a tin under his bed. 

On Wednesday the SFO referred the complaint to the Electoral Commission. On Thursday night, the latter said "based on the information available" it couldn't find any breaches of the Electoral Act 1993.

"The Electoral Act has rules on the disclosure of donations by registered parties," a spokesperson told Newshub.

"In August, Advance NZ declared a donation of more than $30,000 from the NZ Public Party within the required timeframe of 10 working days. Details of the return are available here. As a registered party, Advance NZ will also be required to file an annual return on donations received.

"The NZ Public Party is not a registered party and is not subject to the party reporting obligations in the Act.

"The Electoral Act does not regulate how party or candidate funds are used, other than for election advertising. Political parties have their own rules or constitutions and generally these are internal matters."

Essentially, NZPP doesn't have to track its donations and spending because it isn't a registered political party. 

Te Kahika, who has risen to prominence on a platform of conspiracy theories and anti-Government rallies and social media appearances, told NZME he was glad to have "been cleared".

"I appreciate the Electoral Commission acting swiftly to clear our party of any wrongdoing. Sadly a few individuals, who we once trusted, have decided to launch a smear campaign in an attempt to derail the momentum that we have.

"This week we met their smear tactics by publishing our financial records openly and publicly."