A Labor staff member said during a Victorian anti-corruption hearing that he had manipulated "wads of money " from MPs to pay for party memberships and bought thousands of dollars worth of stamps using public funds that were used for political purposes.
Adam Sullivan, who has held a range of roles for MPs from the moderate faction of the Labor Party, testified on Wednesday at the Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission (Ibac) Inquiry into branch stacking within the Victorian ALP branch.
Ibac has heard that Adem Somyurek allegedly staged a massive branch stacking operation on behalf of the moderate faction. He did not appear at the public hearings which began on Monday.
Stacking branches and paying for memberships is not illegal, but the commission investigating whether public resources have been misused for other faction activity.
On Wednesday, Sullivan said that in 2018, he had been advised by Nick McLennan, another staff member who worked on behalf of the moderate faction, to purchase stamps using the Somyurek Election Office budget. Sullivan said he was told to "reroute" the stamps in a discreet manner, so as not to attract the attention of Parliamentary Services, the body that investigates election office expenses.
Sullivan was then empfull-time employee for Somyurek. Although he had no direct knowledge that Somyurek approved the project, Sullivan said McLennan told him he told Somyurek about it, and Sullivan didn't think it would be a problem. due to the "environment " within the office.
Sullivan stated that he had purchased for $ 11,000 to $ 14,000 from stamps and that "a fair number " of them had been sent for use in Tim Richardson 's elected ion campaign in Mordialloc. No suggestion was made during the hearing that Richardson, a current MP, was aware of the scheme.
Sullivan said he overheard testimony earlier this week by MP Anthony Byrne regarding the widespread stacking of branches within the moderate faction, which involved to pay the memberships of others in violation ofparty rules.
At the request of Chris Carr SC, assistant lawyer, where the funds came from to pay for these memberships, Sullivan said in his experience whether they were provided by MPs or "aspiring" MPs.
He gave three examples of where this happened: when he received around $ 700 from Byrne, when he received $ 2,000 to $ 3,000 from Somyurek, and when he received $ 4,000 to $ 5,000 from Steve Michelson, a former Labor member .
Byrne testified earlier this week that Michelson has made the contribution to the membership kitty so he will be viewed favorably in his bid for federal seat .
With the exception of Byrne, Sullivan said the other payments were made as "wads of bills" in an envelope. Byrne previously told the commission that the funds came frompart of organizing big fundraising dinners.
Carr asked Sullivan a series of questions about the cleanliness of the Somyurek Election Office, where he worked full time for eight months from August 2017.
Sullivan described him as "run down, run down, with canvases spider, "and there was a cockroach infestation in the kitchen that required an exterminator.
Somyurek paid to have his father clean the office, Sullivan confirmed, but he said the only time he saw it was when he came in asking to be paid. The only proof that a cleaning had already been done was about once a week when it looked like the bathroom had been cleaned, he said.
Sullivan testified that there was a“ model ”of branch secretaries of labor also occupying positions in the electorate or inministerial offices, although the first is a political role and the second is publicly funded.
He thought there had been an acceptance of the Stacking of branches within the party, and a disregard for any concerns about using public resources for faction work, because everyone in the party was doing it, and therefore had 'skeletons in the closet ". No one would have sounded the alarm because it would have led to "mutually assured destruction ", he said.
Carr a stated that Sullivan was described by those who knew him as "a decent person". When asked if there were "things you did in your job ... that you are really ashamed of", Sullivan replied that he was okay with it.
The hearing continues.