Napier's new MP Stuart Nash maintains he's "Labour to the core" after an email emerged linking him to controversial National Party and Dirty Politics figure Simon Lusk, and a bid to start a new political party.
The email obtained by 3News was to Mr Nash from his campaign manager Rob Johnson about 18 months ago.
Mr Johnson said in the email: "You had two friends of yours commission a report from Simon Lusk to the tune of 10 grand as to whether you could gain more influence by establishing your own political party in competition with Labour, or whether you should just essentially buy-off your colleagues".
He warned Mr Nash that working with "enemy strategist" Mr Lusk - who was alleged in Nicky Hager's book to be involved in a campaign to promote far right candidates within the National Party - "showed a lack of strategy, naivet and poor judgment".
"If Lusk's involvement gets back to certain members of Labour Caucus, or NZ Council then your entire campaign and career could be torpedoed," Mr Johnson warned, adding that "Lusk now has leverage over you - for several reasons - indefinitely".
But Mr Nash last night denied he'd commissioned the report, telling Hawke's Bay Today that he was "Labour to the core," and the email, though genuine, was the result of a misunderstanding between him and Mr Johnson.
He said he had been approached by his friend, Wellington property investor Troy Bowker and another man "Ned" who he refused to identify, about starting a new political party, but turned them down.
If Lusk's involvement gets back to certain members of Labour Caucus, or NZ Council then your entire campaign and career could be torpedoed.
The pair nevertheless commissioned the report from Mr Lusk without his knowledge.
Mr Lusk eventually told them their plan was not feasible. "I told Rob what happened and he thought I commissioned the report."
Mr Nash confirmed: "Rob will stay on as my campaign manager and he will run my Napier office."
He said Acting Labour Leader David Parker had obtained a copy of the email and rang him about it on Sunday, the same day he decided to pull out of Labour's leadership race, but it wasn't a factor. "In fact, I'd made the decision earlier and this email had absolutely no bearing at all."
A spokesman for Mr Parker told Hawke's Bay Today last night that he wasn't commenting on the matter, and all questions were to be directed to Mr Nash.
In a statement to 3News, Mr Lusk said Mr Nash "has not paid me". Mr Johnson could not be contacted for comment last night.