Brian Edwards Media

Bored with your Monaco millions? Why not buy an election?

 

On The Nation this weekend, ex-pat Owen G. Glenn magnanimously offered to pour over $100 million into youth initiatives after the election. Here are a couple of extracts from the interview:

Q: Are you giving any money this election to any political party, or just advice?

A: Well, I’m giving everybody advice, aren’t I? I’m coming back in October and I’m going to hold a press conference. And I’m going to announce some pretty major initiatives.

Q: Is that money going to be spent here?

A: In New Zealand.

Q: For?

A: Mainly for New Zealand youth. I’m going to put my money where my mouth is. Then I’ll be happy to answer any questions you want to ask me. [laughs]

Q: Well, let’s explore it. And I’m not going to ask you to shoot your bolt right here and now…

A: It’s  not ready…

Q: So we’re talking about hundreds of millions invested in New Zealand youth?

A: Let’s say at least a hundred.  …..

Q: Does it matter who wins the election as to whether or not you proceed with the plan?

A: I think very much so.

Q: So you would think about not doing this initiative…

A: Well look, let’s put it in perspective. I think National has a better shot at it, particularly if ACT is part of it. Because, if I say ACT goes a little bit hard on the Right, if there is temper [?] there, they’re not bad people, actually very good people.

Q: OK. Can I ask you then: you’re prepared to invest hundreds of millions in New Zealand education, for young people…

A: I said at least a hundred million…

Q: … if National and ACT win the next election?

A: That’s correct.

When we’re strapped for cash, performing dentistry on a gift horse could be regarded as bad form. Never mind that  $100 million is a drop in the bucket compared with Government’s spending – it’s a very large drop in a very small bucket.

The problem is that the generous Mr Glenn has probably committed an offence under the Electoral Act 1993 by tagging on the proviso that he will give the money only if National/ACT win the election in November:

Part 7 – Corrupt and illegal practices – 216 Bribery

(1) Every person is guilty of a corrupt practice who commits the offence of bribery.

(2) Every person commits the offence of bribery who, directly or indirectly, by himself or herself or by any other person on his or her behalf—

  • (a) gives any money or procures any office to or for any voter, or to or for any other person on behalf of any voter, or to or for any other person, in order to induce any voter to vote or refrain from voting; or
  • (b) corruptly does any such act as aforesaid on account of any voter having voted or refrained from voting; or
  • (c) makes any such gift or procurement as aforesaid to or for any person in order to induce that person to procure, or endeavour to procure, the return of any person or candidates at an election or the vote of any voter,—

or who, upon or in consequence of any such gift or procurement as aforesaid, procures, or engages, promises, or endeavours to procure, the return of any person or candidates at any election or the vote of any voter.

(3) For the purposes of this section,—

  • (a) references to giving money shall include references to giving, lending, agreeing to give or lend, offering, promising, or promising to procure or endeavour to procure, any money or valuable consideration:

What’s more, I would submit that every New Zealander who is aware of Mr Glenn’s promise, applauds an investment in our kids and grandkids and subsequently votes for National or ACT, could also be guilty under the same section of the Act:

(6) A voter commits the offence of bribery if before or during an election he or she directly or indirectly, by himself or herself or by any other person on his or her behalf, receives, or agrees or contracts for, any money, gift, loan, or valuable consideration, office, place, or employment for himself or herself or for any other person for voting or agreeing to vote or for refraining or agreeing to refrain from voting.

So even if Mr Glenn hastily returns home to Monaco on his super yacht before the Chief Electoral Officer calls in the constabulary, there will be chaos in our courts if he ever makes good on his promise.

At the end of August there were 2,969,274 people registered to vote in the coming election. Ipredict currently has National taking 61 seats and ACT taking five. That would mean up to 1.5 million people committing an offence that carries a penalty of between $40,000 and two years in jail.

Come to think of it, the fines alone would solve the country’s financial problems in one fell swoop! Or alternatively, right-wing voters might vote Labour to save themselves from incarceration or financial ruin. 

Could this be a win-win situation after all?

, , ,

26 Comments:

  1. Owen glenn is living proof that money can’t buy you brains.

    BE: I’m not a fan of Glenn’s, though I can’t quite put my finger on the reason. Just something about him that doesn’t quite… But I doubt you could deny him brains. A very shrewd fellow, I’d say.

  2. Boy, does he want a knighthood badly! Look like he is prepared to spend 100m to get one.

    BE: Or maybe it’s his revenge on Helen Clark for snubbing him.

  3. Nonsense. How many people are going to change their vote because of what OG says? That’s right, none.

    Labour themselves found out he was like cuddling cyanide.
    $100 million (lacking details) while generous, of course is a mere piddle in a lake compared to the sort of spending already in education and youth,

    OGs comments are no worse than any political party stating we will give you more welfare if you vote for us. Labour have been doing this for years.

    JC: Ah now, Kate, don’t spoil my fun. I’m having a high old time imagining a prison population of 1.5m!

    BE: And if I may butt in on this discussion. Isn’t this really quite a serious bribe to the whole electorate? And isn’t its basis rather shabby – those needy Kiwi youngsters, whom I care so much about, won’t get the dough if the voters don’t do what I want.

  4. You are right to call Mr Glenn on his outrageous statment. More attention should be paid to the ethics around business and its consequences.

    Glenn is an enigma in that he seems to have street smarts but supporting the ACT party appears to contradict that view.

    What is troubling is certain people think NZ politics can be bought and sold.

    What is also wierd is Glenn supporting Don Brash & ACT who are hopefully going to be obliterated in this election.

    With National so far ahead in the polls the bigger issue might be the lack voter turnout.

    I expect that when National wins it won’t want to be held to ransom by ACT or the Maori party.

  5. It’s something about people who aquire great wealth, whether the names are Gates, Morgan or Glenn, they are incapable of using it for the good of the community without making sure everyone knows of their generosity. The phrase “let not the left hand know what the right hand doeth” means nothing to them.

    If I needed a persuasive argument not to vote for National/ACT (not that there was much of a risk) Mr Glenn has provided it.

  6. It’s kind of sad, really, watching this guy make a gold plated fool of himself like this. Reminds me of Trump’s last venture into politics.

  7. One word; bizarre.

  8. Owen Glenn always looks a bit pathetic. The documentary on him about 3 years ago showed a sad very rich man surrounded by very young women. The women are not draped around him (as above) because he is filthy rich of course because that would throw their occupations into disrepute.

    As for the wording of the “offer” legal or not, it seems to be counter to our democracy somehow. As Frank says “bizarre.”

  9. Perhaps Mr Glenn is simply pointing out that under a future National/ACT government, the young will desperately need all the help they can get.

  10. Golly ,OG wasn’t sad or bizarre when he was donating money to Helen’s powertrip. Now he’s thinking of giving money to NACT he’s
    A:
    Lost the plot!
    B: Sad!
    C:Shrewd/weird!?
    D: Pathetic?

  11. monty: A and B and C and D. Specially D. Thanks for identifying the essential elements.

  12. Does that mean 40,000 buys you out of Jail.Isnt that a corrupt pactice also.I remember a case a while ago where a defendant could forfeit his house or go to jail.

    JC: I think a fine or ‘Go directly to jail, do not pass go…’ depends on the whim or wisdom of the judge.

  13. Who are you people above that all you ever see is negativity and the lowest common denominator of human behaviour?

    And you , Brian..you’re an intelligent man.

    Do you ever get up in the morning and throw back the drapes and say “Gadzooks, I’m glad to be alive?”
    Or is it always ” who’s pissed me off today..hmm…let me see what i can blog about?”

    Hamish has the franchise on curmudgeon-ility so rise above it , my good man !

    Why must everything be so sinister and ulterior motivated ?
    Why must Owen Glenn only be a self-interested fatcat..maybe he actually wants to help?

    O.K, poppy -scythers..ready,set,off you go…tell me how tragic and deluded I am…sad puppies !

    BE: You rather seem to have missed the point that Mr Glenn’s philanthropy in this case is conditional on New Zealanders electing a National/Act government. He doesn’t “want to help’ otherwise. You’ve also missed the point that Judy wrote this post, not me, so your rather nasty critique seems misplaced. However, I agree with her post entirely. Though you’ve missed the humour in that as well. Sad puppy!

  14. monty (September 5th, 2011 at 19:47)

    “Golly ,OG wasn’t sad or bizarre when he was donating money to Helen’s powertrip.”

    Monty; two points;

    1. When Glenn made donations to Labour, NZ First, and Uncle Tom Cobbly, he did it without these extraordinary demands. (Go ahead, research it yourself.)

    2. “Power trip”? Please explain what you mean by that term. Clark was democratically elected; lasted three terms; and did pretty damn well. Labour even paid off the huge debts that National had accrued during the 1990s. http://www.treasury.govt.nz/government/financialstatements/yearend/jun10/09.htm/fs10-14.gif

    I think my next article will be “Great Myths Of The 21st Century (#2): Tory Governments are not as fiscally prudent as they make out”.

    If the next six years follow their normal course; National will be re-elected; will double (treble?) our sovereign debt; will be replaced by Labour; who will then implement fiscal policies to pay off that debt.

    Now, you were saying?

  15. “Why must Owen Glenn only be a self-interested fatcat..maybe he actually wants to help?”

    The obvious retort is that if he wants to help he should help. what ever party wins the election. Young people need help regardless of the colour of the government.

    Tall poppies have nothing to do with it. It is an individual using his wealth to influence voters and sadly there are to many like Glenn who think that money gives them the right to influence the outcome of an election; witness the Bretheren.

    Some are clever and conceal their influence; some are stupid (or arrogant) and broadcast their intentions.

  16. I am no fan of Glenn but the carping now being aired was not present when he supported Labour…interesting. It is Glenn’s money so he can do with it what he chooses.

    BE: I’m not quite sure why you use the word ‘carping’. Is it ‘carping’ to say that bribing, or at the very least offering huge financial inducements to the electorate to vote for one party and not for the other is unethical and almost certainly illegal? Since Judy’s post appeared Mr Glenn has said he will make this investment in New Zealand youth, regardless of which party wins the election. I applaud that. The fact is that it’s you rather than us who are stuck in a party-political mindset. Our objection to what Glenn was proposing and now isn’t has nothing to do with which side he favours, it has to do with what would have been an abuse of the democratic process.

  17. I work in the non profit NGO world – specifically with youth and young people.
    $100 million is not a drop in the bucket by any means. The MSD social spend budget is $600 mill but bugger all is targeted to youth – the Ministry of Youth Development budget is $15 million, a number dwarfed by Glen’s 100 mill.

    Its bloody hard getting funding for social services for youth and young people, really hard. If a wealthy businessman wants to donate a 100 mill top those of us doing the work I welcome it, fully.

    Yeah sure he may have some ulterior motives but so do most funders including government. In my experience there is very little pure philanthropy in NZ at this level.

    I’m pragmatic about it, so long as there are not too many strings attached those of us in the NGO sector can put that money to good use for the benefit of our children and our futures.

    BE: “I’m pragmatic about it, so long as there are not too many strings attached those of us in the NGO sector can put that money to good use for the benefit of our children and our futures.” Pragmatism should not extend to condoning corruption.

  18. BE: You rather seem to have missed the point that Mr Glenn’s philanthropy in this case is conditional on New Zealanders electing a National/Act government. He doesn’t “want to help’ otherwise.

    Evidently Owen’s philanthropy has been extended to include the unlikely event that Labour wins the elections.

    Rather negates the supposed conditionality of his generosity and makes those who rail on about his partisan attitude appear a little petty doncha think?

    BE: Seems to me you’re the one not doing the thinking. On Saturday Mr Glenn told Sean Plunkett and the country that he was going to make an announcement in October about a donation of “at least 100 million” he was going to make to assist young people in New Zealand. But, he would only make that donation if National/Act won the election. On Sunday/Monday a very small group of commentators expressed the view that such a condition almost certainly was a breach of the Electoral Act and that it effectively amounted to a bribe. I suspect that Mr Glenn may have received the same advice from his lawyers. In any event, he abandoned that discriminatory position yesterday. This may well have been as a result of the “railing” you object to. If he now invests that 100 million in New Zealand youth, I will applaud him.

  19. Brian:

    I thought you’d beyond the notion of never letting truth get in the way of a good story. Here’s actually what Owen Glenn said versus what you assumed and construed.

    Owen Glenn Committed to New Zealand
    Monday, 5 September 2011, 5:29 pm
    Press Release: Owen Glenn
    Owen Glenn Committed to New Zealand
    5 September 2011 – Kiwi entrepreneur and philanthropist, Owen Glenn, announced recently on TV3’s The Nation that he will commit NZ$100 million to the youth of New Zealand. Mr Glenn told Radio Live’s Paul Henry his commitment to this country is not contingent on National and ACT winning the election.
    “My commitment to this country is not politically motivated, so regardless of who governs New Zealand after November’s election, once my business is sold, which I anticipate will be during October, I will look to announce more on my plans.”
    Mr Glenn says he was not trying to influence the outcome of the election through the announcement.
    “I happen to believe that currently a Government involving both National and ACT is best situated to move New Zealand forward and to leverage the opportunity I intend to create through this donation. That’s my personal opinion. We live in a democracy and people should vote for the party they feel will help New Zealand the most.”
    A press conference will be held in October when Mr Glenn will announce more details about his donation and the areas in which it will be spent.
    “I am working on the finer details but it is important people know that my foundation, The Glenn Family Foundation, is not calling for applications as to how this money could be spent.”
    ENDS

    BE: Did you actually read Judy’s post before spouting this rubbish? Have you the slightest idea of the sequence of events? Let me help you. Here’s the quote from Glenn’s Saturday interview with Sean Plunkett on The Nation:

    Q: Does it matter who wins the election as to whether or not you proceed with the plan?

    A: I think very much so.

    Q: So you would think about not doing this initiative…

    A: Well look, let’s put it in perspective. I think National has a better shot at it, particularly if ACT is part of it. Because, if I say ACT goes a little bit hard on the Right, if there is temper [?] there, they’re not bad people, actually very good people.

    Q: OK. Can I ask you then: you’re prepared to invest hundreds of millions in New Zealand education, for young people…

    A: I said at least a hundred million…

    Q: … if National and ACT win the next election?

    A: That’s correct.

    That was Saturday.

    Judy’s post appears two days later on Monday. She says that the conditional nature of Glenn’s offer probably means it’s a breach of the Electoral Act under which it would be seen as a form of bribery.

    Later that night, the On-Line Herald reports that Glenn has withdrawn the condition that he will only make the donation, if National/Act wins the election.

    If you’re going to accuse Judy or me of dishonesty, get your bloody facts right.

  20. 20

    I’m still trying to un-drop my jaw – this colossally cynical attempt to bribe a whole country’s voting population using it’s most vulnerable as a pawn… It’s worthy of SPECTRE and Ernst Stavros Blofeld. I am staggered. One wonders if this hubristic display is directed specifically at we on the left, the one part of the electorate that seems to show any genuine concern for the lot of our young people? Staggering!

  21. Brian I nearly choked on my coffee watching Owen Glen on the Nation on TV3′s Sunday morning replay. I could not believe what I was hearing. Disgusted @ OG.

  22. I’m stunned at the vitriol here. I really can’t see the problem here. Offering $100m for youth work if NACT win is not bribery if John Key makes the offer – so why is it so if Glenn does? And where’s the harm in the donor thinking his money will get less wasted by a NACT government than a Labour one? If I was donating that sort of lolly it’s be on my terms too.

    Given that National looks more like a shoo-in with every passing day and that Labour doesn’t seem to have any feet to shoot itself in, is there a commenter amongst you who would tell Mr Glenn to keep his loot?

  23. Just watched my replay of the Owen Glenn interview.
    I found it very creepy. I had not realised he had withdrawn it because I was going to make a complaint to the Electoral Commission.

    Another comment he made was “what is Helen Clark doing and who is paying her?”. What was he insinuating?
    Not a very nice character I’d say and Helen was wise not to have her photo taken with him.

  24. Zinc says: “I really can’t see the problem here. Offering $100m for youth work if NACT win is not bribery if John Key makes the offer.”
    That is true. Before an election, each party lays out its policy, which might well include John Key announcing that National would spend $100m on youth and education if re-elected.
    However, the democratic electoral process consists of each party laying out its policy and the electors then deciding which policy they prefer and making their own choice which way to vote.
    OG offered no choice – it was “vote the way I want or no money.” That is coercion at the very least.

  25. Zinc (September 6th, 2011 at 23:31)

    “…Offering $100m for youth work if NACT win is not bribery if John Key makes the offer – so why is it so if Glenn does?…”

    Even if you were right, Zinc (and actually, I think you have an element of truth to your comment) – it still doesn’t make it right.

    Bribing an electorate is about as dodgy as a nation can get, collectively.

    I guess the difference between John Key/National (or any other party doing it) and Glenn (or any other rich bugger doing it), is that the former is vaguely accountable to the voters. And voters are responsible for the kind of governments they elect into power.

    Owen Glenn is not responsible to anyone except Owen Glenn.

    Having said that, though, voters are responsible for the Party and policies they vote for. The decisions we made, collectively, in 1975 to elect Rob Muldoon has impacted on this country, 35 years on.

    If I may post this link to an article I wrote on Baby Boomers and their self-serving voting patterns: http://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/2011/08/28/greed-is-good/ – recent history is fairly clear on how Baby Boomers have voted.

    Andrew Wood: Indeed, Ernest Stavro Blofeld. I wonder if Glenn has a secret underground Volcano Lair somewhere? (Probably Monaco.)

  26. I think you should ALL be ashamed of yourselves being so righteous about Mr. Glenn. Have you ever looked on the Glenn Family Foundation website to see all the fantastic work he does around the world?? With little or no credit!!!

    I’m sure there are plenty of countries out there too that would love the generosity of a gentleman like Mr. Glenn. Political or not surely a cash injection into New Zealand youth is a GOOD thing!! Have we also forgotten the other donations Mr. Glenn has given to NZ like the $1m to the Christchurch fund, or the donation of $7.5m to the Auckland Uni for the business school or the donation to the Millennium Sport Institute, or the donation to the Hockey Foundation and the new donation to hold the Men’s Champions Hockey tournament in Auckland?????……and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Maybe you guys should spend less time blogging being spiteful and ungrateful and see how you can help the youth of today and make NZ a better place to live!!!!!