A Hutt City mayoral candidate is in hot water over a blog post, paid for by his campaign, which did not carry an authorisation statement.
Returning officer Bruce Hodgins was ready to call police over the ad for Tony Stallinger on community blog Wellington Live. He gave Stallinger an ultimatum on Monday morning.
The website was updated with an authorisation statement just hours before Hodgins’ final deadline of Monday at 5pm, six days after the post was first made.
The advertisement, a post titled “Mayor Barry cancels interview at last minute”, features a video promoting Hutt City mayoral candidate Tony Stallinger and a series of pointed questions directed at his rival, incumbent mayor Campbell Barry.
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Stallinger is the leader of United Hutt, a group of independent candidates campaigning against current mayor Barry and his administration.
The post on Wellington Live is a list of nine “questions from ratepayers”. These include a question about Barry’s independence, accusations about staff turnover at the council and the purchase of his home, and a claim that United Hutt has found $100 million of “corporate overheads” in the council budget.
The video promotion with Stallinger also questions Barry’s independence and suggests more than $100 million of council spending is unexplained.
Hodgins said the post was an electoral advertisement for Stallinger and it required an authorisation statement.
Graham Bloxham, Wellington Live publisher, confirmed he was paid to do a video interview with Stallinger.
Bloxham said the video interview was a paid ad, but he wrote the blog post independently because he was “peeved off” at Barry for cancelling an interview.
“Last time I looked we didn’t have to put an authorisation statement on our content,” he said.
He said the authorisation statement now covered the entire post and video, because Stallinger was “uncomfortable” and “understandably, didn’t want police showing up”.
Stallinger said he was approached by Bloxham for the “hard-hitting” interview about the issues facing the Hutt and he was “not at all” involved with the questions directed at Barry. He would not confirm how much he paid for the interview.
Barry said the blog post was a matter for Stallinger and his ticket United Hutt. “I’m focused on running my campaign within the rules, and fronting up to the issues that matter to our people like how we deal with challenges around our city’s infrastructure.”