New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters has rejected claims that political consultant Simon Lusk has ever worked for him, or for New Zealand First.
"I could tell you who he has worked for. He's worked for members of the Labour Party, he's worked for members of the National Party, but he has not worked for me, or New Zealand First," Peters told reporters yesterday.
His NZ First colleague Shane Jones today confirmed that Lusk attended two fundraising events at the Wellington and Auckland offices of law firm Russell McVeagh.
The $350-a-head events, on October 31 and November 4, were billed as an evening of dinner and politics with Peters and his caucus.
"He has been to two events," Jones said today, before confirming he was referring to the Russell McVeagh dinners.
"I presume that he had come as part of the crowd, wanting to hear news of New Zealand First. I've got no commercial relationship, advisorial relationship with Simon and I don't know of any other member of the caucus who has.
"I think the last time I spoke to Simon about anything of any substance was his campaign to destroy the Ruataniwha Dam (in Hawkes Bay).
Jones said he had "never, ever, had any relationship with Simon. I obviously know Simon from the days of yore. I met him through [Police Minister Stuart] Stu Nash", Jones said.
NZ First MP Ron Mark appeared not to have heard of Lusk when asked about him.
"No, I don't know Simon Luxton. Lusk. No," he said.
"I don't meet with, talk to, mix with, associate with Simon Lusk at all."
It is understood NZ First MP Clayton Mitchell has used Lusk's services in the past. He could not be reached for comment today.
Lusk also did not respond to requests for comment.
NZ First president Lester Gray, who initially told the Herald he would research whether the party had used Lusk's services, could not be reached for comment later.
Jones today also slammed Lusk's associate, Whaleoil blogger Cameron Slater.
"I live in Kerikeri. We're not on town sewerage. I very rarely clean my sewage tank. That's what Whaleoil is," he said.
Jones said Lusk was not involved with brokering any deal between New Zealand First and ousted National MP Jami-Lee Ross to cast his proxy vote while Ross remains on medical leave.