John Weekes is an NZME News Service reporter based in Wellington.

Palino silent on scandal

Mayoral candidate says he left Auckland after election to deal with business in US.

John Palino is back in Auckland after travelling to the United States to deal with business matters. Photo / Doug Sherring
John Palino is back in Auckland after travelling to the United States to deal with business matters. Photo / Doug Sherring

John Palino is back in town after taking a break in the wake of the mayoral sex scandal.

The defeated Auckland mayoral candidate was last seen publicly in late October, briefly reappearing in Auckland after a trip to Australia. Then he left again, remaining out of contact as the Len Brown scandal rolled on.

This week, Brown agreed to pay $40,000 towards the $250,000 cost of a review into his affair with council adviser Bevan Chuang, who was an associate of Palino's aide and confidante Luigi Wewege.

Palino declined to open the door of his apartment this week. "I just want to get on with my life," he said. "It's a new year."

Palino again rejected having any advance knowledge of Brown's affair with Chuang.

He said the media should be asking about Chuang's presence during his campaign. "Why was the girl a volunteer in my team? That's really the question."

Palino told the Herald on Sunday his absences from New Zealand were necessary. He said he'd already promised fiancee Rose Li an overseas holiday for her birthday. So, just days after the October 12 election, they went to Melbourne.

Former Palino employee Wewege criticised the trip. "I don't think he appreciates how bad it is at the moment," Wewege said at the time.

Palino returned in late October. But he said business interests in his native United States needed his attention. "I had no choice. I had to. I had a serious issue with business over there I had to take care of. I had a lot of money in something over there and I needed to take care of it."

Palino previously developed a marketplace in Connecticut in a partnership with Grasso Construction. He also had family in nearby New Jersey.

Palino said he was not interested in a political career "at the moment". He thanked his campaign team, and said he was proud of getting nearly 110,000 votes.

He was less ecstatic about the campaign's aftermath. "The rest of it was bullshit."

Chuang did not respond to calls yesterday.

Her supporter Hamish Price said Chuang attended a few Palino campaign events only because she knew Wewege.

"She wasn't a member of his campaign team at any point."

- Herald on Sunday

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