National leader Simon Bridges is defending himself after recordings of him discussing the $100,000 donation by a Chinese businessman, remarks towards ethnic MPs and ridding three list MPs were exposed on Facebook.
In the recording Former National MP Jami-Lee Ross is heard telling Bridges that the $100,000 donation from Zhang Yikun was in the “Botany account” which Bridges says is “fantastic.”
Ross released the recordings to social media after a two hour meeting with three detective senior sergeants at Wellington Central Police Station.
Ross says, “I outlined to them the evidence that I had with regards to my view of the Cathedral Club and that election expense donation. I also played them the recording and gave them copies of the recording."
Bridges fronted media at Parliament. “[Ross] has defamed me and he is a liar. As I said before I have done absolutely nothing wrong and that has shown to be demonstrably the case today with that secret tape.”
In the recording the pair also discuss a candidacy request by Yikun. Bridges says, “Two Chinese would be nice but then would it be two Chinese and one Phillipino. What do we do?”
Ross expresses that two Chinese MPs would be more "valuable" than two Indians before Bridges talks about culling list MPs and calling Maureen Pugh “F****** useless”.
“I reckon it’s all three of our MPs – not picking out obvious ones like [Chris] Finlayson or [David] Carter but actually we just want them to go.”
Bridges expressed his apologies saying his words were not how he felt.
“The reality is Maureen has really been giving her stride recently with the work that she has been doing. It’s a big and hard lesson for me.”
“In terms of other members of Parliament the reality is they are making strong contributions that they know that I value.”
Ross says Police are now investigating the allegations of an electoral law breach where Ross claims Bridges allegedly asked him to collect and split the donation.
The Electoral Commission says penalties for failing to comply with the rules for party and candidate donations range from a fine of $40,000 to $100,000 or a maximum of two years in prison.