PwC report names Jami-Lee Ross the leaker of Simon Bridges' travel expenses; Bridges says the leak and Ross' conduct form a 'pattern'; Ross claims he's been framed

National Party Leader Simon Bridges has come under fire, as he’s pinpointed Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross as the leaker of his travel expenses.

Bridges on Monday afternoon announced a PwC investigation, commissioned by the National Party, indicated Ross leaked his expenses to the media three days before they were due to be released in August.

PwC clarified that while the evidence "points" to Ross as the leaker, there isn't "certainty" around this. 

Nonetheless, Bridges said the leak, as well as “other matters” concerning Ross’ conduct, suggested a “pattern”.

He said Ross' future would be determined by the National Party's caucus, but suspension was an option. 

Minutes before the announcement was made, Ross took to Twitter to claim he was being framed.

He said he’d fallen out with Bridges some months ago, as he’d questioned his leadership.

“When I started to become expendable, I confronted him with evidence that I had recorded him discussing with me unlawful activity that he was involved in,” Ross tweeted.

“Working on his instruction, he asked me to do things with election donations that broke the law.

“This evidence led Simon to push me out on medical leave a few weeks ago. It was essentially an attempt to stop me from speaking publicly.”

Bridges announced on October 2 that Ross was going on leave for a few months, as he was dealing with health issues he dubbed personal, private, sensitive and “embarrassing”.

He clarified the situation was separate to the leak investigation.

Then on Monday morning, AM Show host Duncan Garner revealed a National Party insider had told him Bridges’ election returns were handed in late after amendments were made. One donation of $10,000, and another of $14,000 were initially recorded on Bridges' own return, but removed and placed on the National Party's return instead.

Bridges confirmed on the show that the leak was true.

The $10,000 donation reportedly came from 'Cathedral Club', which appears to host networking dinners attended by the likes of pollster David Farrar and far-right blogger Cameron Slater.

The larger donation came from Cubro Ltd, which Mr Bridges said was a healthcare business in Tauranga.

Newshub reported the owners are Exclusive Brethrens. The religious group controversially spent more than $1 million trying to get National elected in 2005.

Asked on Monday morning (before the Ross announcement) to comment on the donations matter, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said: "To use Napoleon's famous phrase, 'Never interfere with an enemy who's in the process of destroying himself'."

Here is a statement from Bridges:

Earlier today I received the independent report from PwC on their investigation into the recent leak of the National Party’s travel expenses.

The report states that the evidence identified points to Jami Lee Ross as being the person who sent the anonymous text message.

I am releasing the report today.

John Billington QC has independently assessed the investigation report. It is his opinion that on the balance of probabilities the evidence establishes that Jami-Lee Ross was the person who leaked the expenses and the sender of the text message.

I accept both the investigation report and the opinion of Mr Billington.

Earlier today I visited Jami-Lee Ross with Paula Bennett and explained to him the report and the opinion of Mr Billington and gave him an opportunity to respond. I was not satisfied with his explanation.

I also discussed with Jami-Lee other matters concerning his conduct that have come to my attention and suggest, together with the leak, a pattern.

I informed Jami-Lee that tomorrow the investigation report and Mr Billington’s opinion will be presented at a meeting of the National Party Caucus along with the other matters.

The Caucus will be asked to consider all relevant matters, including his membership of the Caucus.

Finally, you will recall Jami-Lee recently took leave from Parliament given personal health issues.

This action today is completely separate. I did not know what the investigation report would contain when those matters were addressed in recent weeks.

Today I have taken steps to ensure that Jami-Lee has the necessary support around him at this time.

The step that I have taken today is not made lightly.  I am balancing the health issues with the considerable public interest in the outcome of the investigation.

Here are copies of Ross' tweets:

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85 Comments

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26

What a brilliant 'own goal' !
Also, Winston called it weeks ago.

Called IT~!!!

Considerable public interest in the outcome of the investigation.???

By whom? Not me.

Whats the old quote? Even bad publicity is better than none.

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10

Don't think that this will be an example of that ' any publicity' thing.
Soimon is stuffed and JLR moreso.

Totally agree, Bridges needs to learn from Ardern how to handle things.
Ardern just addresses the issue and declares it done, and leaves it alone and then the media follows, no matter if your senior MP is assaulting staff or doing dodgy Curran deals.Or if Peters is caught double dipping on Super for 6-7 years, obviously the Nats fault, so sue them with taxpayer money; problem solved.
Bridges picks away at things and then it all backfires and blows up bigtime.
There seems to be a diifferent , more severe punishment for political crimes than common law issues.

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14

So end of story. . For Simon. .

One big happy family! I guess their chance in 2020 is now like zero.. lets aim for 2026.
Judith should be in charged, then she can whip them into line.

Everyone rowing in the same direction.

Also, I did note the odd wording used a few weeks back: "completely separate to" NOT "completely unrelated to". However, didn't quite expect the ultimate outcome to be quite such a conflagration.

“Everyone rowing in the same direction?” Methinks an odd craft indeed. One oarsman, seven coxswain.

Collins is all p... and wind, but don't tell them

A conundrum in nowadays democracies -- there is no worthy to elect!

I say we vote this guy in as opposition leader!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJOmUW5QyqQ

I like it. Think that Xingmowang would like him too.

Xi Jinping recently had himself incorporated into the CCP constitution. It's now illegal to politically challenge him. Bridges could really take a leaf out of Jinping's book.

I haven't shown much interest yet but that could change if JLR go's into Bridges office and doesn't come out and those aeroplanes on the Wgtn tarmac turn out to be Saudi Arabian.

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14

Great example of a circular firing squad.

Hahaha. Now imagine the uproar if it was a Labour MP.

Claire who??

Implosion....

Only been in NZ for 16 years and still learning the local lingo so I will have to use the English expression : 'What a plonker'. I would appreciate learning a suitable Kiwi English and Te Reo translation.

the whole situation can be summed up in one Te Reo word and that is 'utu"

Thought I ought to check in with an online dictionary:- ""Utu—payment, satisfaction, revenge—summed up in a word the darker side of the Maori character.""

That is a passage from an early 20th century memoir, you need to find more reliable sources.

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13

I'm going to call it, Bridges is un-electable.

He is the functional equivalent of the prior Labour leader. Similar traits and public approval.

What do people think the "election donations that broke the law" thing is about?

Also wondering who the actual leaker is, my money is still on Paula Bennett?

Further, it's completely despicable crying wolf about "mental health" issues to use as a shield from repercussions. Looks like it may have been Bridges that suggested that avenue. It means people won't believe those with legitimate mental health issues. Truly awful.

National's a sinking ship. They need a new crew.

this no mates CoR is a shambles.

Finally some leadership in politics. Now we need Jetsinduh to tell us who leaked on Meka the Muss.

If you KNOW something like 'who is the leakers!' you don't come out in public and say who it is! You use the info wisely; behind the scenes, and retain an air of dignity in public. This 'outing' does nothing but harm for Bridges and his Party. Perhaps that's why Ardern is keeping quiet?

What a shambles. This is the end for Ross and probably Bridges as well.

You know this from the herald:

‘The report showed Ross had been in contact with a Radio NZ reporter, Parliament's Speaker Trevor Mallard and a police officer in his electorate - all on dates that matched with how the leak and its aftermath unfolded.’

Suggests they were only able to isolate JLR by his contact with the police who were called to ascertain whether he was safe.

Can we do CoC - coalition of conservatives instead?

They are both pretty soft really and don’t exactly engender a lot of confidence when they talk.
People I speak to all say that Bridges is not a great leader and it is hard to see him in charge in 2 years time!
By saying that whoever leads National in 2 years will be leading the country as the coalition continues to implode.
Word has it that Ardern is seriously struggling and will not be in charge either this time next year.
Watch this space and you have heard it from The Man!

Sounds like the PR crew is working overtime, perhaps to distract from Bridges' current mess.

Actually whoever took over at first was doomed anyway, history reveals that often. Marshall, McLay,Shipley. Perhaps for National’s sake it is good that they will have got him out of the way well before the next election. Who might do it better though? Beats me!

Okay The Boy who will lead National to victory in 2020? What party will help National get over the line? Labour will now do three terms instead of two. National left a mess especially in housing. Labour are getting immigration numbers and house prices down and rents in Auckland and poor old Christchurch. As your mate Trump says they are doing a wonderful job.

Okay Grandad, I am not too sure who will lead National at this stage.
Won’t need to be too much to beat the Coalition because they will have done so much damage to the average family quality of life.
This petrol dibacle is going to really affect people and the KiwiBuild BS is farcical.
This COL are going to be the most despised government of all time.
People that voted for them are now regretting that they did.
Maybe not you Gordon but then you are very old and so probably doesn’t affect you too much!

Lol, while I'm not that enamored of the current coalition, particularly with their effectiveness, if you think they're the ones imploding at the moment you need to get out more often. National have a couple of years to find someone to represent them and turn things around, otherwise they will be staying right where they are.

Election day I didn't think it made much difference but as time goes by I am so relieved National lost. Too many issues where they wilfully buried their head in the sand. I can still clearly remember when John Howard first became leader in Oz - I was certain that his image (appearance, voice) made him unelectable in Australia but I was wrong. Bridges can take heart - if the COL makes too many mistakes National will get in whoever is their leader.

As usual you avoid answering the questions. You admit Bridges is dog tucker. Who will lead them into power? What other party will help them get enough seats? Maybe the Greens. For the record I am 63, have been retired for just over 5 years and have no grandchildren yet. I voted National in 2017 as I detest Winston about as much as I detest Trump. The Boy would have voted for Trump if he could have as like Trump he has no empathy for the unfortunate in society.

Lets all revisit this proclamation from the MAN - he is a shrewd operator and his success with investment in CHCH should bode well for this potential scenario unfolding.

I'm grabbing my popcorn, this is going to be epic! Skeletons about to tumble out of closet, it'll be like watching a homegrown version of Dynasty

They as in politicians in general, should learn not to play with stones when living in a glass house.

Simon should have just dropped this whole thing from the start. It would have been in the news a few days then forgotten, but no he he like a dog with a bone and will not let it go. Really doesn't hold him in a good light as a possible future PM. Really with all the talent we have in this country is the current crop of politician the best we can do ? Seriously does no one with true leadership in this country want the job ? Unless there is change I cannot be bothered voting at the next election.

Time to promote The Crusher. These little boys need to be brought into line.

In leather and 9inch stilettos, yeah? Don't you usually have to sneak around back alleys and pay your dominatrix in cash

Is that Helen Klurk you referred to?

She hasn't got the eyebrows

Now the question arises: Will Simon Bridges maintain his moral stand that the Waka Jumping Bill is reprehensible, he'd repeal it, and is pretty sure he'd never use it himself?

"In the instance where someone felt incredibly strongly about a particular issue in Parliament, were it a moral issue or a particular issue for an electorate, there is no question I would not use it."

JLR seems to feel pretty strongly.

Maybe Nationals leader will consider that JLR has well and truly burnt his Bridges.
Sorry but my wife encouraged this.

In that case the spouse should douse! What a carry on though. The old British comics, Syd James etc, could have made a great movie titled “ Carry on Stuffing it Up.”

Meanwhile Fitch is predicting higher current account deficits ....

Much more fun discussing everything that doesn’t matter which will all be gone with the wind as soon as the next exciting and totally irrelevant news comes along in a few days time.

I'll be very surprised if this one goes away in a hurry.

JB.So ‘current accounts’ - are they the same as the Core Crown Gross Domestic Product Accounts or is that, like, you know, absolutely definitely not the same, or something ?

No connection - The current account is the difference between a nations investments and savings - any difference having to be financed either by printing money, borrowing offshore or selling assets offshore.

Effectively our trading accounts with the rest of the world.

I thought Labour would do six years. Now looks like nine years. His ego has destroyed him.

National Party leader Simon Bridges says Winston Peters should focus on governing rather than pursuing his "personal vendettas" by suing senior bureaucrats and National MPs in the courts.

"I think he should focus on government and New Zealand, not his own personal vendetta."

Simon Bridges on Winston Peter's Superannuation Leak - June 2018.

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12069101

The best come back for Jami-Lee Ross is to ditch national Party and join NZF or Labour.

Not a chance. I still remember the wife of JLR costing the Auckland Council voters more than $100k by self imploding before taking up her elected position.

Wake jumping in place now - he's a gone burger !

Didn't the Police trace the originator of the texts? Can that not be revealed?.
I actually thought Bridges handled today well, but probably not enough to keep his job longer than a year.
Is JLR elected or list MP?

He's an electorate MP. So it's now up to Simon Bridges to put the truth or lie to his own earlier statements regarding the Waka Jumping Bill.

national who opposed the waka jumping bill will now use it to replace him.
before he could have quit the party and gone independent , even started his own party and sat in parliament for the rest of the term.
they will look like a right bunch of hypocrites if they use it now to remove him

A nice 200K a year if he goes Independent.
Other than that I can see a new Green Acres starting around Howick

Bridges stop acting like a spoiled school kid and let this go, the punters think you have something to hide,
if you carry on like this the voters will not trust you, and have no confidence you can be the next Prime minister

Bridges you are no match against Wintson Peters, do not even try

2008 all a bit of a blur for you is it? Hint ... election ...... 10,710 winning margin............

When I started to become expendable, I confronted him with evidence that I had recorded him discussing with me unlawful activity that he was involved in. Working on his instruction, he asked me to do things with election donations that broke the law.

If this can be proven both should be out on their ass. Bridges for corruption/fraud, and JLR for not immediately coming forward with the evidence. aka conspiracy/aiding and abetting.

Any chance we ever get an honest trustworthy politician in parliament again?

Now imagine what the repercussions would be in the private sector if someone got busted obtaining their bosses expense data and having that leaked to the public?

Our parliament is filled with complete imbeciles. These people are meant to be leading our country, we’ve either got a government who does nothing or a government that does everything half baked. Then you have all these little scandals popping up where our elected officials can’t even think before they act, no consequences it’s just a few days on the front page and then old news.

""either got a government who does nothing or a government that does everything half baked"" Wish I had written that.

Good comment Nzdan

New Zealand has too many politicians. UK has 650 seats representing 65 million (give or take 10 million people that they might not know about). but officially 1 per 100,000 of the population. And they are mostly rubbish too
NZ has 120 for 5 million people or 1 for every 41,666 people. Halve the number and pay half as much to attract talent and people like Roger Witherspoon, CJ009, Custard, JC etc would possibly consider it a worthwhile exercise. At the moment the squabbling over an expenses leak is just ridiculous when there are far bigger issues on the horizon. But age old saying applies at present, 'If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys!'

From long immersion in said corporate sector, it’d need to be something particularly salacious to generate more than a flicker of interest and the leaker would be unceremoniously gassed. Bridges needs to do the same.

do people think that bridges has what it takes to be prime minister? i can't actually see him as a nation's leader. call it charisma, the x factor, or the ability to project competence, trust or strength or whatever, but i don't see him as a natural fit for that role. clarke had it, key had it, english even had it in a beige sort of way, and adern seems to have it, but bridges?

No - anyone who describes getting 'some good hits in on the opposition.' Is too 'simple' for the task. Sorry Simon but that's the reality.

His problem is that many who have known him a do not find him believable or ethical.

Fake news. Give us names. I’m calling you out on this.

He comes across as a d..k, ergo he is a d..k

The coalition may be a bit naïve, at times, but gee they look good compared to the alternative...

Ah, yeah nah, Jami. I said there were likely two possible reasons you were off sick, turns out it looks like both of them were the case.
As for Simon, he will remain unpalatable, but my guess is the Nats will leave him there till sometime early in 2020.

Surely even Simon realises that he's just the dumb patsy keeping the seat warm until somebody knifes him in the back and takes over.

I ran along point view drive last night and encountered a media storm outside JLR house. At 7:30 pm he still hadn't arrived home. The illusive Botany MP was nowhere to be seen!

Just listening to JLR on radio. - This isn't going away any time soon and seemingly not without a lot of blood on the carpet.

Good, national party needs a cleanout of the old useless guard. Or keep them, either way we should get some new blood in the next election, either fresh blood inside national, or fresh blood from minor parties taking their place.

If the new guard are wedded to the old views "new" faces will make no [real] difference.

So still deny CC?
Still happy with increasing inequality?
Still only thinking short term?

What's changed then?