NZ First's mysterious Tauranga staff member, Tommy Gear, was used to lean on the Maori Party to get it to change its parliamentary voting stance against Winston Peters.
The Dominion Post understands Mr Gear had a meeting with Waiariki MP Te Ururoa Flavell in Rotorua last weekend.
It is believed that Mr Gear put pressure on Mr Flavell to vote along ethnic lines to oppose the vote censuring NZ First leader Mr Peters in Parliament on Tuesday.
The ploy did not work as the Maori Party, along with National, the Greens, UnitedFuture, ACT and independent MPs Gordon Copeland and Taito Phillip Field, voted to censure Mr Peters over a $100,000 donation from billionaire expatriate Owen Glenn.
After the vote, Mr Peters accused the Maori Party of "treachery", saying he was shocked Maori would not back Maori.
Mr Peters said yesterday he was not going to waste his time commenting on "mindless speculation" about a possible meeting.
He denied any knowledge of the meeting and said he had no intention of talking to Mr Gear about it.
Mr Gear, who has received hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars from Parliamentary Service for a job many in NZ First know little about, did not return calls yesterday.
This is just another nail in the coffin of Winston First. The party is already under investigation by the Police for a breach of the Electoral Finance Act involving unauthorised billboards being erected at Gear's Tauranga home. At the time, it was revealed that the shadowy Mr Gear was employed in a wide-ranging but secretive role, and paid for by you and I via Parliamentary Services, to whom NZ First still owes $158,000.
Keeping Stock calls on Winston Peters to come clean over this shady episode, but doesn't expect that to happen today, or tomorrow, or.....