Texts, sex and hotels revealed in Brown review

KIRSTY JOHNSTON
Last updated 15:06 13/12/2013
len brown
LAWRENCE SMITH/ Fairfax NZ
LEN BROWN: Has had the report to review for several days.
Bevan Chuang
Fairfax NZ
BEVAN CHUANG: Had two-year affair with the mayor.
Doug McKay
SEAN WILLIS/ Fairfax NZ
COUNCIL BOSS: Auckland Council chief executive Doug McKay.
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A report into the activities of Auckland mayor Len Brown during an affair with Bevan Chuang has shown he did not declare free hotel rooms and upgrades valued at more than $38,000.

Brown's conduct was under investigation after it was revealed he had been seeing Chuang, a council advisory board member, for two years and there were concerns about improper use of council resources.

The report found the mayor used his council-provided phone to make 1375 calls and texts to Chuang between November 19, 2010 and October 21 this year. They were personal calls and personal phone use was permitted.

Costs relating to personal calls were supposed to be reimbursed and Brown made one $263 payment.

The calls accounted for 10 per cent of his total calls in the period.

The report also revealed Chuang attended events as a translator despite not being on an official list, that Brown made a reference for her for an art gallery job and that the mayoral vehicle was used to transport Chuang on several occasions.

Brown received nine complimentary hotel rooms that went undeclared. The total value was $6130. On top of that, he received $32,888 of hotel upgrades that were undeclared.

However, the report found there was no inappropriate use of funds and while there were instances where council policy was breached, Brown wouldn't face sanctions, Auckland Council chief executive Doug McKay said.

Declaring gifts were the responsibility of the elected member as part of the code of conduct. However, McKay said there was no punishment for breaching the code of conduct.

Brown's conduct was under investigation after it was revealed he had been seeing the Auckland Council's Ethnic Peoples Advisory Panel member for two years and there were concerns about improper use of council resources.

A council representative confirmed earlier this week that, as stated in the review's terms of reference, the report had been given to Brown for him to provide feedback.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister John Key has said Brown would need to satisfy everyone that his expenditures or use of perks were appropriate. 

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"In the end, what he'll need to do is satisfy everybody that it's appropriately-used council and ratepayer money.

"Provided he's done that, any other actions he's taken is a matter between him and his family."

Key said he hadn't been given a heads-up about what was in the report.

"But I mean, obviously, once it comes in the public domain he'll need to debate and discuss and explain why it is what it is."

The review was announced in October.

It was to examine:

- Any use of council resources within the Office of the Mayor, in respect of the mayor's relationship with Chuang that contravened council policies (for example, payments and procurement)

- Any improper preferential treatment in relation to Chuang's engagement as an employee, contractor or advisor within the Auckland Council Group; and

- Any other issues the reviewers or chief executive considered related to or arose out of those matters.

When the investigation was announced it was expected to take a maximum of four weeks.

Brown's affair with Chuang, 32, was revealed after he won the mayoralty in October.

Chuang unsuccessfully stood for the Albert-Eden Local Board in the elections, and before that served on the Ethnic Peoples Advisory Panel.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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