Politics and scandal seem to go hand in glove these days. And Winston Peters' career could be said to be marked by how many times he's been either involved in a scandal, or accusing others of one.
It's ironic that he and his party should now be accused of electoral fraud in relation to undisclosed donations channelled through the arm's-length NZ First Foundation when to a large extent Peters made his name – or certainly his mark – on the New Zealand political and legal landscape with fraud accusations of his own.
Those were in relation to the so-called "Winebox inquiry" which he initiated in 1992 by taking a winebox full of documents into Parliament relating to some 60 company transactions allegedly detailing tax avoidance and evasion.
The thrust of his complaint was that Inland Revenue and the Serious Fraud Office had been fraudulent or incompetent in not taking the allegations seriously. Eventually public pressure forced a formal inquiry, which found against this claim.
• Premium - Bruce Bisset: Election leaves little to be excited about
• Bruce Bisset: Way down south in Otane
• Premium - Bruce Bisset: The world is burning now - imagine what the future holds
• Premium - Bruce Bisset: Growing pains instead of profits
But after a judicial review, a Court of Appeal case and a final High Court ruling, four of the commission's findings were struck out due to errors in law – though the overall result stood.
The case also caused several changes to tax laws and both sides claimed victory.
That outcome helped lift Peters as leader, and NZ First as a party, into holding the balance of power. He became a Cabinet minister in the Bolger National Government, but was later sacked and, when Jenny Shipley took over as prime minister, the coalition with NZ First dissolved.
After losing the Tauranga seat to National's Bob Clarkson in 2005, Peters launched a legal challenge alleging Clarkson overspent his allowable campaign budget. He lost that case on a split decision.
Then in 2008 Peters was accused of receiving large donations from Owen Glenn, the Vela family, and Sir Bob Jones, and not declaring them.
Trump's decision to withdraw from Paris accord is major blow
Comment: Let's revive true participatory democracy
The Serious Fraud Office cleared him, but the electoral commission determined some matters of law had not been complied with. Police subsequently decided no offence had been committed.
He was, however censured by Parliament's privileges committee for "knowingly providing false or misleading information on a return of pecuniary interests" in relation to the Glenn donation.
This new allegation is more serious.
NZ First is accused of using the foundation to hide nearly $500,000 in political donations.
The donations were allegedly not disclosed to the Electoral Commission, which may be a breach of electoral law.
The foundation's governance includes Brian Henry, who is also Peters' personal lawyer.
So no matter how much "distance" the deputy PM tries to put between himself and the allegations it is hard to imagine he and the party will not be exposed as thoroughly tangled in the foundation's web.
Equally, if the allegations are true, it is even harder to think NZ First will not be in deep trouble.
Of course as the record shows, Winston Peters has faced serious demons before, and slain them. Even when the whole NZ First circus seemed dead and buried after they lost all seats in 2008, the Silver Fox managed to raise them from the electoral grave - and look where he is now.
But, potentially, this is a more potent threat.
I'm sure Labour already regrets having had to dance with the devil. They may wind up paying a very high price if the devil can't get the last laugh.
Bruce Bisset is a freelance writer and poet. Views expressed are the writer's opinion and not the newspaper's.