Judith Collins mum on Don Brash claims but 'happy' to take people's money for National as long as 'within law', not from Mongrel Mob

Judith Collins is more than happy to take donations for the National Party as long as they're "within the law" and not from the Mongrel Mob.

Political funding and donations are back in the spotlight after Stuff reported on Tuesday Collins asked former National leader Don Brash to raise $300,000 for a new billboard campaign.

Stuff reports Brash emailed a group of wealthy potential donors in May, saying Collins had asked him to raise $300,000 to support the Demand the Debate party campaign. 

While Brash said he is now closer aligned to ACT, which he also led for a period, he donated $15,000 and encouraged others to do the same, according to the report.

Asked on The AM Show on Wednesday if she did make such a request of Brash, Collins refused to rule it out. 

"I have certainly talked to Don and other people about how they can help us get these messages out. As to numbers and all that, I don't go into that," she said. 

Host Duncan Garner pointed out that she wasn't saying it's not true. 

"I am saying to people I am happy to take the money for the National Party," Collins replied. "Don't send it to me, send it to the National Party. Don is someone who in the past has certainly been generous to us and also to other former party leaders."

"We do not get union funds, we are not using taxpayer funds, we have to have donations from the public. As long as they are within the law and they are not Mongrel Mob funds, that's fine."

She said if she discussed details about donations, "it would discourage other people coming forward and wanting to work with us". 

The mention of "union funds" is a likely reference to Labour's heavyweight donors. According to Labour's donation and loans return form for 2020, it's largest named donor - of those who donated more than $15,000 - was the NZ Dairy Works Union, which gave $90,000. A number of other unions are also on the list. 

In 2020, an election year, National received $2.8 million in donations compared to Labour's $1.5 million. Among National's big backers was Garth Barfoot and the Gallagher Group. 

The National Party has also been vocal in criticising Government funding of a Mongrel Mob rehab programme. MP Simeon Brown announced on Tuesday he will be introducing a Member's Bill requiring officials to ensure public money isn't "used directly or indirectly for the purposes of making payments to gangs". 

The Demand the Debate campaign comes in response to recent policy announcements by the Government which National says it didn't campaign on and which need a public conversation. One of those is the controversial He Puapua document, which Collins has said is an attempt at "separatism by stealth". The Government has rejected that, saying He Puapua isn't formal policy. 

Brash, who is now a spokesperson for controversial Hobson's Pledge, had his own billboard campaign when National leader - the famous anti-separatist iwi/Kiwi signs.

The issue of political donations has become a hot topic for parties in recent years, with the Jami-Lee Ross scandal, charges over donations to New Zealand First and Labour, and the Māori Party being referred to the Serious Fraud Office after it failed to declare donations on time.