ACT leader David Seymour has defended keeping money from a man who threatened to destroy mosques, amid tensions over the appropriateness of donations.
It comes after Seymour and National leader Judith Collins lashed out at Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt for giving a $200 koha, a customary Māori gift, to the Mongrel Mob, when he visited the Waikato gang pad in May.
Collins was so outraged by the donation that she called for Hunt to step down, while Seymour went further and called for the Human Rights Commission to be abolished.
Seymour has faced his own donation controversy, after a Newsroom investigation in 2019 found that a businessman called Mike Allen, who auctioned off a Seymour-signed 'Make Ardern Go Away' cap to raise funds for ACT, threatened to destroy mosques in a Facebook comment.
But Seymour still has no intention of returning the money.
"It's been blown totally out of proportion and I don't believe that it helps to abuse and victimise a person for something that he's taken down and apologised for," he told Newshub.
"I understand that he's actually had quite serious mental health problems", Seymour said, over what he called "a drunken comment" Allen made on Facebook.
"I'm not going to join in that beat-up."
Allen told Newsroom in 2019 he was not a white supremacist.
"I don't really understand that one. My girlfriend's Thai; my kids are mixed race. If I'm a white supremacist, I'm not a very good one."
Seymour says the man's comments were unacceptable but described the "pile-on" he's experienced as "grotesque".
"It's done more harm to him than his stupid comment has done to anyone and I refuse to join in that pile-on."
The auction for the hat was held on Trade Me in August 2019, just months after the March 15 Christchurch terror attack. It was originally intended to raise funds for Kidsline charity, but Seymour feared the auction would politicise the charity, and asked if the funds could go to ACT.
"Bear in mind that the donation was made long before the comment. We did not know what the future holds or what comment he might make in the future when accepting it,' Seymour said.
"You've had a guy driven to depression, despair, lost his business - to then denounce him as well I believe is cruel and out of proportion to anything that's occurred."
ACT isn't the only political party to have taken questionable donations.
A woman who donated $53,970 to the Greens over two years was found guilty of severe animal abuse for leaving her animals to starve with untreated open, gaping wounds, and leaving sheep ridden with parasites.
The Greens have pledged never to accept any more donations from the woman, but the party said it wouldn't repay the money because the law required it to be used for party purposes.
As for the National Party, a Serious Fraud Office prosecution involving former National MP Jami-Lee Ross is set to go on trial in September. Ross, and a trio of businessmen, were charged in January last year over donations of $100,000 in 2017 and $100,050 in 2018. All four have pleaded not guilty.
Labour is also under investigation. The Serious Fraud Office charged six people in relation to a donation made to the party in 2017. The defendants in this case all have name suppression. The SFO says none of the defendants are sitting MPs or current or former officials of the Labour Party.
The law enforcement agency is also investigating donations made to the Māori Party and the New Zealand First Foundation.