One week out from the Victorian election Liberal Opposition leader Matthew Guy has been caught lying about cooperating with a donation fraud investigation, and been referred to the state’s corruption regulator.
The Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) today said it had “referred its Matthew Guy/Mitch Catlin investigation” to Victoria’s corruption commission because it “has not received full cooperation from those connected to its investigation”.
Yesterday Guy told media he was cooperating with the VEC – claims he has made previously – saying “what I’ve been asked for I’ve given”.
Yet the VEC today said “despite public claims to the contrary” it had “not received full cooperation” and referred the matter to Victoria’s Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC) “for further investigation”.
Mitch Catlin resigned as Guy’s chief-of-staff on August 2 after it was revealed he had asked a wealthy Liberal Party donor to make payments of over $100,000 to his private company.
Victoria’s Electoral Commissioner, Warwick Gately, said the VEC had “exhausted its attempts” to “fully investigate what may constitute a breach of Victoria’s funding and disclosure laws”.
“We became aware of suggestions that Mr Catlin was alleged to have tried to circumvent donations disclosure laws,” Gately said.
“It’s my responsibility to ensure compliance with all electoral laws and ensure all participants are held to the same standard.”
The Victorian election is to be held in just over a week, on Saturday November 26.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the issue was “a matter between Mr Guy and IBAC”.
At a press conference Guy sought to dodge questions about the scandal.
“I don’t know what they’ve (Victoria Electoral Commission) put out today, that’s up to them,” Guy said.
He later said he had in fact read the VEC’s statement (below).
The Victorian Electoral Commission’s statement. Source: VEC
The Age newspaper obtained a copy of the “contract”, which Catlin emailed to Guy and asked him to forward to the Liberal Party donor, who has not been named.
The contract was not signed.
The proposed deal would have seen Catlin’s private marketing company Catchy Media Marketing and Management paid $8,333 a month plus GST.
It contained a clause stating the contract would be terminated if Catlin ceased being Guy’s chief-of-staff.
In Victoria donations over $1,050 must be disclosed and individuals or organisations are limited to donating a total of $4,210 every four years.
The Age reported that in the email Catlin wrote to Guy, and sent to Guy’s private Hotmail address, Catlin wrote:
“Hey MG. Attached is the proposed agreement between [the donor] and Catchy Media Marketing and Management”.
Catlin continued: “It’s as per the original email agreement between you and me”.
“It’s as per the original email agreement between you and me” – Catlin email to Guy
“Can I leave you to forward onto him? [Lawyers] will liaise with him when you do.”
Guy appointed Catlin in September last year.
Catlin previously worked in public relations and has been described as a “celebrity wrangler”.
“Catlin’s LinkedIn resume makes no reference to his time as Guy’s chief-of-staff”
Missing: Catlin’s LinkedIn profile makes no mention of his time as Matt Guy’s chief-of-staff. Source: LinkedIn
“A former television journalist, Catlin moved into PR and marketing in 2005 and was soon heading up publicity at Myer, where he worked closely with model Jennifer Hawkins, before leaving to join to Swisse vitamins,” reports Guardian Australia.
“When Swisse entered the Birdcage marquee at Flemington Racecourse in 2011, Catlin and his team turned a no-show by Kim Kardashian into a social media phenomenon by installing a cardboard cut-out of the reality star for guests to pose with.”
Catlin’s LinkedIn resume makes no reference to his time as Guy’s chief-of-staff.
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