‘Pissed off’ mayoral candidate returns $1000

Donation dodge: Failed mayoral candidate Roger Tompkins

A Queenstown mayoral candidate has paid back $1000 to a political donor after this year’s elections – to avoid making the name public.

And he’s doing it to spite Mountain Scene

An electoral donations and expenses return, made public on Monday, shows film director Roger Tompkins didn’t declare any donations over $1500 – anonymous or otherwise.

That contradicts what he told the Scene earlier this month – that he’d received one donation over $1500 which, under the Local Electoral Act 2001, he had to declare.

Asked to explain, he says: “I had one which was above [the $1500 threshold], but after that thing in the Mountain Scene I returned $1000 to somebody.

“I thought Scene editor] David Williams was really pissing me off with his snide little comments and I thought ‘bugger him’.”

Queenstown council comms boss Michele Poole says: “Our electoral officer will be seeking advice from the Department of Internal Affairs about the suggested inaccuracies in the returns of electoral expenses provided by two candidates in the October elections.”

No claims: Merv Aoake
No claims: Merv Aoake

The other is unsuccessful council candidate Merv Aoake, whose return said he spent nothing.

The act says candidates must declare all donations received above $1500, including the donor’s name and address, if known.

Tompkins finished third in the mayoral race, behind winner Jim Boult and ex-deputy mayor Lyal Cocks.

Tompkins says his campaign was largely self-funded, despite receiving “seven or eight” donations underneath the declaration threshold.

The refund was made almost two months after his election campaign finished.

Tompkins took umbrage at several Scene stories including one which stated he and fellow candidate Lyal Cocks refused to say if Queenstown property developer Chris Meehan contributed to their campaigns.

Tompkins was the biggest spender during this year’s campaign, with expenses totalling $19,164.46 – about $17.60 for each of his 1060 ticks.

Tompkins – whose signs were repeatedly vandalised – paid $6405.37 on “signs/biz cards/stickers” and another $540 for distribution.

He also paid more than $6000 on PR and marketing, including $3500 on ads and $560 for “social media”.

He finished third in the mayoralty race behind Boult (6050 votes) and Cocks (2644) but still believes the money was well spent.

“I was stunned that we did as well as we did; I was really pleased.”

Boult declared two donations totalling almost $6000.

Queenstown property developer Lewis Gdanitz gave his campaign a $2154 cash injection on August 11, while San Francisco-based Arthur Patterson propped him up with a further $3579 on September 19.

Boult says Patterson was an unknown supporter who owns a property in the resort.

The American’s understood to be a friend of entrepreneur and philanthropist Sir Eion Edgar.

The new mayor spent a total of $17,423.33 on what was a 15-week campaign.

Cocks – who also filed no information about donations – spent $3671.62, while John Mann spent $3362.56 and Kinloch’s Al Angus spent a paltry $800.

First-termer Tony Hill was the biggest spender of the councillors, by a nose, spending $6768, a squeak above Wanaka’s Ross McRobie, who spent $6761.36.

Aoake, a one-term councillor, says his blank return doesn’t mean he didn’t spend a dollar, he just “didn’t claim a dollar”.

The only other councillor with a completely blank return was Scott Stevens, who was elected unopposed for the Arrowtown ward when nominations closed in August.