‘Both men look simply ridiculous’: Garner explodes on Ross and Bridges

The AM Show 17/10/2018

Duncan Garner has slammed National leader Simon Bridges and former National MP Jami-Lee Ross after Tuesday's political whirlwind in Wellington. 

"This is nasty and vicious and now deeply, deeply personal on both sides," The AM Show host said on Wednesday, reflecting on Mr Ross' explosive accusations against Mr Bridges.

He accused his former boss of electoral fraud in a press conference, calling him a "corrupt politician". Mr Bridges responded with his own press conference, defending himself and vehemently denying the accusations

"It is unbecoming of the nation's elected representatives and both men look simply ridiculous," Garner said, adding that Mr Ross' allegations are "most certainly unprecedented".

This whole thing is an unmitigated train wreck.

"But that's what happens when the dance of the desperate turns to rolling around in the mud, fighting for their careers in the gutter, where the truth struggles to exist and humiliation and blame do maximum damage."

Garner said he's been informed that Mr Ross is going to the police Wednesday afternoon to hand over what he claims is evidence of electoral fraud.

During Mr Ross' press conference on Tuesday, he claimed Mr Bridges took a $100,000 donation from Chinese businessman Zhang Yikun and asked him to split it into small amounts to hide it from the Electoral Commission. 

Mr Bridges called these allegations "entirely false", and said he invites the police to investigate "fully" and "properly".

Mr Ross later uploaded images to social media showing Mr Bridges at an event with the Chinese businessman.

"I've never seen so much dirty, filthy laundry and tawdry secrets dragged into the public arena before," said Garner.

"It's not a semi-scrap over the directions of the party or the policies - this is about twisted ambition, promises, dirt-digging, and careers going nowhere fast."

Garner speculated that Mr Bridges will be more affected by the turmoil than Mr Ross, because "these troubled waters are here to stay for some time yet".

"Bridges is again a loser, because why can't he answer yes or no to whether or not he received the $100,000 donation?" Garner asked. "Why can't he also answer what the Cathedral Club is? What are you hiding?"

A party insider revealed to Garner earlier this week that Mr Bridges' election returns were handed in late after amendments were made. 

Two donations - one of $10,000, another of $14,000 - were initially recorded on Mr Bridges' own return, but removed and placed on the National Party's return instead. The $10,000 donation came from 'Cathedral Club'.

When pressed on receiving donations from the Cathedral Club during his press conference on Tuesday, Mr Bridges said, "I'm not talking about party donations".

"This whole thing is an unmitigated train wreck," Garner told The AM Show. "How can you lead a party when there are now so many big question marks about your integrity?"

"Ross is dead-meat, but I don't expect Bridges to last either. He may even be forced to stand down because mud sticks, it's lose-lose."

The National leader could face jail if the sensational corruption allegations Mr Ross has levelled at him are found to be true, a law expert told Newshub.

Watch the full commentary above.

The AM Show with Duncan Garner, Amanda Gillies and Mark Richardson, weekdays 6-9am on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.

Newshub.