One Nation officials "on the sauce" when seeking $20 million donation from US gun lobby
The One Nation officials have claimed that they had been “on the sauce” drinking alcohol when they were recorded discussing seeking a $20 million donation from the American gun lobby.
An Al-Jazeera investigation published on Tuesday revealed that Pauline Hanson’s chief of staff James Ashby and One Nation’s Queensland leader Steve Dickson met with officials from the National Rifle Association (NRA), the US’s biggest gun lobby organisation, in hopes to secure a $20 million political donation.
In the recorded meetings, the NRA officials gave Ashby and Dickson suggestions on ways to galvanise public support to weaken Australia’s gun laws, such as ghost-writing columns on local media and smearing supporters of gun control.
During one of the meetings, Dickson also told the NRA that “African gangs imported to Australia” were committing various crimes in the country, including “coming into the house with baseball bats to steal your car”.
In a press conference Tuesday, Ashby and Dickson denied that they were seeking political donation for the far-right party, saying that the meeting was to learn the campaigning techniques the group used to help the Trump campaign, such as robocalling, text messaging streams and live phone calls.
“This was not about sourcing money from the NRA, this was about sourcing technology, an understanding of how they operate, but never was it about seeking $20 million from the NRA,” said Ashby.
“The conversations that have been recorded where there is talk of $10 and $20 million dollars – I’ll be the first to admit, we’d arrived in America, we’d got on the sauce, we’d had a few drinks. And that’s where those discussions took place. Not with any potential donors.”
Dickson also referred to Australian reporter Rodger Muller, who posed as a grassroots gun campaigner and recorded the footage while working on behalf of Al Jazeera. “I’m going to apologise to the people of Australia for some of the things that Rodger Muller has taped me saying when we were having a few drinks at the bar at our hotel,” said Dickson.
“I don’t talk like that publicly, we were three men talking together and we were having scotches for three or four hours. That is the truth of the matter.”
Dickson and Ashby said One Nation leader Pauline Hanson will decide if they should resign from the far-right party.
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