There is no such thing as the envelope of anonymity.
Down at the Off-The-Record Bar last week, I found myself perched on a stool next to a senior party functionary, and the talk turned to donations, anonymous and otherwise.
He started with a story about the day a generous donor handed him a sealed envelope, which he quickly opened in the nearest cafe. (''Because the first thing you do when you get an envelope is open it.'')
Inside was a cheque for his own party, as well as one twice as big for his main opponent.
Embarrassment all round when he called the rich donor and offered to pass it on to his counterpart in the other party.
The conversation then turned to how it was logically impossible to receive, in person, an anonymous donation in a sealed envelope.
1) First you have to make a call on whether to open it.
1a) If you open it, you know it is a cheque and the gift is not anonymous.
1b) If you don't rip it open it means you have a strong suspicion it is a donation, but you want it to be ''anonymous'' - though at that point it is not really anonymous. Then:
2) If you don't open it and instead pass it on to - say - your campaign treasurer to open, then either:
2a) He opens it, finds it's a cheque and does not tell you. Then you can be sure it is a donation, so it is not anonymous.
2b) He opens it, finds it is, oh, a birthday card, or an invitation to a night on the pokies, and passes it back to you, at which point you know it was not an anonymous donation.
2c) He opens it, finds it's a card or an invitation and forgets to hand it back, at which point you should:
3) Not trust him, and certainly not sign any election return he puts in front of you, if you find out his error, or
3a) Not sign the return, because you think it was a donation, even if it wasn't, so it was not anonymous.
Which is all very well in theory, but no one banks on that ever happening in real life, eh?
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