The Electoral Commission has cleared Maori Party candidate Wetex Kang of a bribery allegation.
Maori party president Tukoroirangi Morgan accused the New Zealand Herald “beefed up” on its front page last week.
“Today’s <Tuesday’s>decision by the commission confirms what I said last week – that Wetex is the victim of a smear campaign led by a troublemaker angry that he didn’t want her as his campaign manager. And a reporter at the Herald who let himself be fooled and manipulated by her,” said Mr Morgan.
Mr Kang, who is contesting the Botany electorate, said the smear campaign was “down-right nasty and vicious”.
“My family has been affected in ways I cannot describe. My business has been affected because of the nature of the allegation. And this attack could have ended my campaign,” said Mr Kang.
“I’ve been disadvantaged once as an Asian and twice as a Maori Party candidate.”
Chief Electoral Officer Alicia Wright said in a letter to Mr Kang on Tuesday that the commission was satisfied that he had not given any money directly or indirectly to induce an elector to vote for him and therefore had not committed the offence of bribery under section 216 of the Electoral Act.
“You have advised that you were not responsible for providing any of the nine envelopes in the WeChat group. The person administering your WeChat campaign page posted five envelopes. Three other independent supports posted a further four. You have advised that the total value of the nine evelopes was $38.25.”
Mr Kang, the first Asian to stand for the Maori Party, has asked the administrator to stop.
“The commission would caution candidates and parties against using WeChat red envelopes to promote election advertisements as it carries risk of complaints of bribery,” she said.
“It could also actually amount to bribery depending on the circumstances, the amounts involved, and the intent to induce.”