The Jami-Lee Ross saga has forced National Party leader Simon Bridges into conversation with Dirty Politics blogger Cameron Slater, who is in close contact with the rogue and unwell MP.
Bridges' office confirmed to the Herald that Bridges called Slater to give the right-wing attack blogger assurances over decisions about Ross having been made after taking proper medical advice.
The phone call confirms Slater's key role in the Ross affair, which has caused the National Party more than a week of anxiety and chaos.
Those woes have not disappeared with Slater's emergence. He has long-standing grievances against the National Party, despite being close to many of its MPs at one stage and a text confidante with former Prime Minister Sir John Key.
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It is believed Slater has been personally supporting Ross since the weekend and his assistance extended to helping the MP in his release from Middlemore Hospital's mental health facilities yesterday.
Slater's role has also extended to briefing media on aspects of the Ross saga.
It puts the blogger back in a prime position of influence after years in the political wilderness following the 2014 publication of Dirty Politics.
The book contained allegations of dirty tricks and political hit jobs. Slater has been a pariah in the National Party ever since.
Bridges' call to Slater came after the Whale Oil blogger wrote a blog post promising retribution on the National Party for what he sees as its role in Ross' deteriorating mental health and subsequent fall from grace.
The phone conversation between Bridges and Slater came after Slater obtained access to text messages held by Ross.
A spokesman said: "Mr Bridges contacted Mr Slater to make clear that he acted on appropriate medical advice throughout this process."
The spokesman would not say how long the call was or if other matters were discussed, although said: "It was a brief conversation focused on Mr Ross' health."
The phone call was referred to by Slater in a lengthy blog post in which he accused the National Party of arranging publication of the claims by the four women who spoke out about Ross' behaviour.
Slater wrote: "When I spoke to Simon Bridges on Monday he was continuing to deny a hit job."
The only text message held by Ross to have emerged since the MP went into mental health care was the subject of a Checkpoint story on Radio NZ yesterday.
The text message was released by an anonymous person with the permission of Ross, who was still in mental health care at the time. It was purportedly from the National MP who Ross claimed to have had an affair with and included a number of personal slurs.
The story brought a storm of criticism on social media, with "Dirty Politics" claims and accusations the text had come from Slater.
A spokesman for Radio NZ would not reveal sources but said the decision to run it was based on information from "multiple sources".
"The story went through normal editorial approval processes. There is no reason to review those processes."
Other media did not follow the story but Slater, on his Whale Oil blog, used it as a springboard to attack the MP for sending a "disgusting text message".
Even before Dirty Politics, Key wanted distance between Slater and the party after the blogger and so-called political strategist Simon Lusk began training MPs for cash.
Lusk has been another Dirty Politics figure to emerge during the Ross saga. Lusk, who advertises himself as able to remove politicians from office, had been providing advice to Ross.
He has previously advised Ross and was believed to be - along with Slater - close to the East Auckland man prior to his challenge for the Botany electorate candidacy.
Millionaire and Seventh Day Adventist church leader Paul Honnor is another to emerge as a link between Ross and Slater, and is also believed to have been involved in co-ordinating support for the now-independent MP.
Honnor has known Slater for more than a decade, supporting the blogger when his security business went into liquidation and providing occasional work since. Honnor was a director of Slater's company Social Media Consultants Ltd for three years.
Honnor was also a figure of influence in the life of Ross who grew up without a father.
Slater wrote of Ross a few days ago: "We both have a mutual friend who I consider to be one of the wisest people I know. We are both working hard to support Jami-Lee Ross as friends."
Those who know Slater believe the man he called "like a second father" was Honnor.
The wealthy businessman, who has a home on Paritai Drive, would hold weekly prayer meetings at the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Manukau, which Ross and Slater attended at the same time.
Honnor disconnected the call when telephoned for comment. Slater did not return a request for comment.
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the Electoral Commission confirmed this afternoon it had been contacted by police in connection with a complaint laid by Ross about a $100,000 electoral donation. The Commission said it would provide advice as required.
Police declined to comment on their investigation.