Viv Beck's bid for the Auckland mayoralty has been hit by an argument over an unpaid six-figure bill which saw her locked out of her campaign Facebook account and website.
It has led to Beck — endorsed by Communities and Residents (C&R) — jumping to a new campaign company which has set up a fresh social media presence and a new website.
The squabble over the bill comes as the contest for mayor heats up with a little more than six weeks to go until polling day.
It again reveals the need for a sizeable war chest, with the spending limit for a mayoral candidate set at $680,000.
Voters looking for Beck online are currently faced with two different choices — a "Viv Beck For Mayor" campaign page on Facebook which hasn't been updated since April and a "Vote Viv Beck For Mayor" page created on July 29.
The same problem is believed to have struck her website, although the content on the original "vivbeck.co.nz" has been copied across to the new "votevivbeck.co.nz".
Beck was recently confronted over the bill and expressed surprise over the size of it, the Herald was told.
It was said to have still not been paid and the agency which had done the work, for which there was no written agreement, withheld access to Beck's online presence.
Beck told the Herald: "There was a disagreement over this work and resolution is being worked through."
She confirmed The Campaign Company was now working on her digital campaign. It worked for Beck's mayoral competitor Leo Molloy until he pulled out recently and pitches its services to clients worldwide.
The company's director and shareholder is Jordan Williams, who is the executive director of the Taxpayers' Union which campaigns for smaller government. Williams is also director and shareholder of the Auckland Ratepayers' Alliance, which similarly campaigns on reducing Auckland Council.
Beck said the website and social media accounts set up in the past month had "strong" engagement.
The original website was set up in February by her campaign manager Anthony McGivern, who was standing for the Albert-Eden local board on a C&R ticket. The new website was registered by The Campaign Company, also on July 29.
It was unknown which advertising agency was originally doing work for Beck. A request for comment was sent through Beck's original Facebook page but by last night no response had been received.
Donor Andrew Krukziener said he was aware of the multiple pages and the password issue.
"She's changed parties she's dealing with through the campaign.
"She's changed agencies," he told the Herald.
He confirmed it was not a smooth transition.
When asked about the passwords being withheld, he said it was for Beck to comment on.
Krukziener said he had supported Beck with a "six-figure pledge" which had been paid in two tranches. He said he had also organised for "other parties who have made substantial pledges".
A poll carried out a month ago by the Auckland Ratepayers' Alliance and the Curia polling company, which is owned by Taxpayers' Union co-founder David Farrar, had Beck at fourth place although 35 per cent of those asked had yet to choose a preferred mayor.
The leading candidate in that poll was Labour-endorsed candidate Efeso Collins. The latest poll had Collins still in the lead and Beck trailing with less support than earlier polls.
Incumbent mayor Phil Goff, who is not standing again, spent $410,000 (2016) and $436,300 (2019) on his campaigns.