In a week like no other in NZ politics, the Botany MP turned on his former party and its leader, going about as rogue as you can go. Toby Manhire tallies the explosions
Over the course of 100 hours last week, Jami-Lee Ross turned into a human firestorm. It began on Monday lunchtime with the incendiary tweets pre-empting Bridges’ press conference on the report into his expenses leak, and ended Friday afternoon in an incredible interview on Newstalk ZB. There was apparently no pin he wouldn’t pull.
Here are some of the things that have been said and done (and bear in mind many are simply claims; Bridges characterises Ross as “deceitful”) over the course of those 100 hours by the bull in the National Party china shop.
- Insisted that he did not leak Simon Bridges’ expenses records.
- Confirmed he did leak a text message purporting to be from the expenses leaker.
- Revealed he had been secretly recording conversations with Simon Bridges.
- Said he had fallen out with Simon Bridges some months ago after questioning his leadership abilities.
- Claimed that Simon Bridges had asked him to do things with election donations that broke the law
- Claimed that when he told Simon Bridges that he had a recording which proved his involvement in breaking the law, Simon Bridges had pushed him out on “medical leave” in an attempt to keep him quiet
- Promised to produce a recording incriminating Simon Bridges in electoral fraud over a $100,000 donation to the party
- Produced a recording which didn’t do that, but did show the two men talking about how to deal with a $100,000 donation.
- Produced evidence Simon Bridges had said of potential future National MPs, “Two Chinese would be nice, but would it be one Chinese or one Filipino, or one – what do we do?”
- Produced evidence that he had said, “Two Chinese would be more valuable than two Indians.”
- Produced evidence that Simon Bridges wanted veteran MPs Chris Finlayson and David Carter to quit.
- Produced evidence Simon Bridges had called list MP Maureen Pugh “fucking useless”.
- Ignited concerns about Chinese state influence in New Zealand.
- Lodged a complaint with Police alleging Simon Bridges had committed electoral fraud.
- Quit his place in the National Party caucus.
- Gotten expelled from the National Party caucus.
- Announced he would resign his Botany seat, triggering a by-election
- Announced he would not be resigning his Botany seat, scuppering plans for a by-election
- Confirmed that he was still talking to the eccentric and attack-strategist Simon Lusk of Dirty Politics
- Promised to produce evidence that Simon Bridges had threatened to inflate complaints against him to 15 women if he spoke out.
- Produced evidence that showed Simon Bridges warning him that if he really wanted natural justice there could be 15 women complaining against him rather than four.
- Claimed the National Party had engineered the Newsroom story in which four women complained of sexual harassment and bullying.
- Ignited concerns around #metoo related issues at parliament.
- Said he had had an extra-marital affair with another married MP.
- Said he had an extra-marital affair with one of Simon Bridges’ staffers.
- Revealed that he had talked to Chinese party donors in an attempt to dig dirt on the Labour Party.
- Claimed that when then MP Todd Barclay became a problem for the party, he had been deployed to “exit him”.
- Revealed he had betrayed former National MP Todd Barclay by earning his trust and having him reveal information that was later leaked to the media to push him out of parliament.
- Claimed that pattern was repeated this week when National Party MP Mark Mitchell visited him, in what he believes was an attempt to drive him out.
- Declared the “rules of the game have changed” over coverage of sexual relations among people who work at parliament, suggesting he might break the omertà and “lift the bedsheets” over rife “bedhopping”.
- Claimed to have text message exchanges in which John Key asked him to go and deal with a party donation that had hit a snag.
- Prompted colleagues to recall “leading conversations” with Jami-Lee Ross which he may have been recording.
- Pledged to “continue to expose” what he believed was a “rot in the National Party”.