Just over a week after then Treasurer Josh Frydenberg called her “one of the best CEOs in Australia” – and amid an ongoing investigation – the boss of Guide Dogs Victoria has “resigned” from the $30 million charity.
Karen Hayes made headlines six weeks ago, on April 20, when it emerged she had appeared in political advertisements spruiking Frydenberg for re-election.
It is illegal for charities to support political parties or candidates, under laws heavily advocated by Frydenberg and the former Federal Coalition Government.
The announcement from Hayes today comes after The Klaxon late yesterday afternoon put a series of detailed questions Guide Dogs Victoria chair Iain Edwards.
Edwards did not respond to the questions, but the charity said the “internal investigation” it launched six weeks ago when the scandal broke remained ongoing.
Guide Dogs Victoria said the investigation was being conducted by an outside investigator.
This afternoon charity spokesman Tim Lele confirmed the investigation remained ongoing.
The Klaxon has asked who was conducting the “internal investigation” and whether its findings will be released publicly. We are awaiting a response.
The Klaxon asked Edwards yesterday whether Hayes, who was “stood-down” on April 26, continued to be paid her salary, which, according to the group’s accounts, appeared to be over $500,000 a year.
Hayes’s “resignation” raises more questions than it answers, particularly for the charity’s high-powered board, which has refused to answer questions since the scandal broke.
Multiple sources have told The Klaxon that, behind-the-scenes, Hayes has claimed she had no knowledge that Frydenberg planned to use her in his advertisements, and that Hayes has said she did not give permission for the advertisements.
The political advertisements were legally, personally endorsed by Frydenberg.
The political advertisement on Josh Frydenberg’s website. Source: Josh Frydenberg
Hayes has repeatedly declined to respond.
Frydenberg has also repeatedly refused to respond.
As previously revealed by The Klaxon, Guide Dogs Victoria received $3.5m in payments it didn’t need under Frydneberg’s JobKeeper program.
Those funds went to bolstering its already bulging “cash at bank” to $18.75m, up from $16.65m a year earlier.
The Klaxon’s questions to Guide Dogs Victoria chair Iain Edwards yesterday afternoon.
On the night of the federal election, just over a week ago, Frydneberg, who had faced a drubbing at the polls, made a call-out to Hayes.
“A shout-out to one of the best CEOs in Australia, Karen Hayes,” he said during the televised speech.
Frydenberg lost his seat set of Kooyong, in Melbourne’s inner-east, to independent Dr Monique Ryan.
Along with the Hayes ads, Frydenberg ran a very similar series featuring Cate Sayers, the founder of Melbourne charity Inclusion Foundation.
Both the Hayes and Sayers advertisements featured the women in their formal capacity as charity bosses, with each appearing under the headline “Why I am voting for Josh Frydenberg”.
As previously revealed by The Klaxon, almost immediately after the scandal broke, the chair of Inclusion Foundation, Luke Sayers, absolved Cate Sayers of any wrongdoing.
Luke Sayers is Cate Sayers’ husband.
No mention of that connection, or of the clear conflict of interest, was mentioned by Luke when he wrote to charity members telling them Cate had been cleared by Inclusion Foundation’s board, which he leads.
Frydenberg was forced to pull the Hayes and Sayers advertisements, which had appeared online and on flyers distributed in Kooyong, after they were reported by media on August 20.
“In my role as CEO of Guide Dogs Victoria I’ve had the great privilege of being able to build respectful and trusted relationships with countless community leaders and supporters in many contexts,” Hayes said in a statement today.
More to come…
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