Education Minister Jan Tinetti formally warned by police over electoral breach complaint

Newshub can reveal under-fire Education Minister Jan Tinetti was formally warned by Police for a breach of the Electoral Act during the 2022 Tauranga by-election - however Police found her actions did not reach the threshold to prosecute. 

The Electoral Commission made three referrals to Police relating to complaints about social media content on election day for the Tauranga by-election. The commission confirmed one of these complaints related to social media activity by Jan Tinetti. 

The three referrals made were for apparent breaches of section 197(1)(g)(i) of the Electoral Act 1993 which prohibits people from publishing content that may influence voters on election day. 

In a statement, Police told Newshub Tinetti was issued with a formal warning. 

"Police reviewed all available information and determined it did not meet the threshold for prosecution, however, a formal warning was issued."

Tinetti told Newshub on Friday: "I was made aware the of the Facebook post within an hour of it being made on my Facebook page and I removed it as soon as I saw it". 

"I apologised at the time and have taken steps to prevent it happening again."

National leader Christopher Luxon wants answers about why the police's formal warning was never made public. 

"She was a Cabinet Minister at the time. We need to know why she didn't tell the public, whether she told the Prime Minister and whether Chris Hipkins knew about it when he promoted her," he told Newshub. 

Tinetti was this week referred to Parliaments powerful Privileges Committee for failing to correct wrong statements she made in Parliament quickly enough.

The Education Minister incorrectly told Parliament in February it was a decision for the Ministry of Education for when to release attendance data.

But Newshub revealed this month that Tinetti's office instructed officials to delay the release of the information so it could be timed with a truancy announcement by the Government. The minister told Newshub she wasn't aware at the time that her office was holding up the data.

Speaker Adrian Rurawhe on Tuesday said Tinetti received a letter from him on May 1 telling her the answer needed to be correct, and she did so the next day.

However, that correction came long after Tinetti learnt her office was involved. She found that out after Question Time on February 22.

The committee has launched an investigation into Tinetti's behaviour and has called her to appear before them in an open session on Thursday.

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