We’ve all been guilty of making off-the-cuff remarks we’d prefer weren’t repeated to the world at large.
But these days you’ve got to be darned careful what you say. You never know who may be secretly taping you, hoping to use your words against you.
That advice comes just a bit late for Simon Bridges, New Zealand’s opposition leader.
Bridges has made a recent public apology after being caught on tape using explicit language in describing one of his MPs. The National Party leader was heard calling member Maureen Pugh ‘f***ing useless’.
Police look into Mr Bridges’ handling of donations
Mr Bridges has been attacked further by a ‘rouge’ MP within his own party — who he had previously accused of leaking his expenses.
Nevertheless, the scandal has caused the police to look into further allegations regarding his handlings of political donations.
After earlier quitting during an extraordinary, hour-long press conference in which he heavily criticised Mr Bridges, the former member for Botany, Jami-Lee Ross, on Wednesday laid a complaint with police.
He alleges Mr Bridges had asked for a $100,000 political donation from a Chinese businessman to be divided up to avoid revealing its origin.
Although, Bridges strongly denies any wrongdoing. He states that the donations came from several supporters, while he was having dinner with said businessman back in May.
‘[Mr Ross] has defamed me and he is liar … I have done absolutely nothing wrong,’ Mr Bridges told reporters.
‘There are a number of donations there from a number of individuals.’
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Bridges’ apologises for offensive comment
But despite Bridges’ defence, Mr Ross released a recording of a conversation with him he’d secretly taken regarding the money.
And while it doesn’t include any smoking gun or suggestion that Mr Bridges had asked for the money to be hidden, he was caught talking about replacing some of his MPs.
‘Maureen Pugh’s f***ing useless,’ Mr Bridges is heard saying of National’s 44th-ranking member.
He promptly apologised.
‘I’ve apologised profusely to [Ms Pugh] for my wrong comments. I am mortified. There’s no excuse for them and they’re entirely thoughtless. And they’re not how I feel,’ he told reporters.
According to AAP, the tape also reveals a discussion of ethnicity representation of potential MPs. The recording captures Mr Bridges saying, ‘two Chinese would be nice’, but that it risked creating a fight with current members.
He later told reporters that while the comment may be considered ‘blunt’, there was nothing for him to apologise for.
‘I am incredibly proud National is a party that thinks about multiculturalism and our representation,’ he said.
Since then, police have released a statement saying that they were looking into the donation allegations to see if any further action needed to be taken.
While the National party has remained steady in the polls since last year’s election, the 42-year-old Simon Bridges has struggled to gain traction — sitting at just 10% in the polling for preferred prime minister in August, compared to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at 40%.
Who knows how he’ll recover from this…
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