Craig Baumann critical of ICAC's Operation Spicer

DISMAYED: Former Port Stephens MP Craig Baumann said Operation Spicer had amounted to nothing more than a Liberal witch hunt.
DISMAYED: Former Port Stephens MP Craig Baumann said Operation Spicer had amounted to nothing more than a Liberal witch hunt. "I've spent 25 years in public life and achieved more in four years... than Labor did in 16 years."

FORMER Port Stephens MP Craig Baumann would almost like the Director of Public Prosecutions to pursue criminal charges against the likes of ex-Charlestown MP Andrew Cornwall.

‘Will or won’t the DPP’, is the burning question after the ICAC handed down its findings of fact from Operation Spicer on August 30. 

“I’ll be very interested to see if the DPP go anywhere near it after they were burnt in the Margaret Cunneen case,” Mr Baumann said.

“But it’s likely it won’t and Andrew won’t have the opportunity to defend himself.”

For these reasons Mr Baumann said Operation Spicer was a nothing but a smear campaign.

“It’s absolutely a witch hunt that has blown $20 million and disenfranchised the residents of Port Stephens. I feel very sorry for the people of Port Stephens,” he said. 

“There’s been no finding of corruption on my part, nor on the behalf of the other nine Liberals, and I’ve apologised [for declaration breaches].”

Mr Baumann in 2007 (as the Liberal-candidate for Port Stephens) caused Mambare to lodge a declaration with the Election Funding Authority that falsely claimed that it had donated about $80,000 to the NSW Liberal Party when the money had in fact come from the businessmen Hilton Grugeon and Jeff McCloy.

The ICAC noted that developer donations were not prohibited at the 2007 election but found that Mr Baumann had breached disclosure laws.

The second incident came about in November 2010 when Mr Baumann entered into an arrangement with his accountant Vincent Heufel to disguise another donation, in preparation for the 2011 election.

Under this arrangement Mr Heufel made a donation of $100,000 for Mr Baumann’s election campaign and Mr Baumann reduced the amount his company, Mambare, charged for building Mr Heufel’s house by the same amount. 

Mr Baumann has previously apologised for his part and stood down from the 2015 election.

While the ICAC has made these findings against Mr Baumann there’s no recommendation the DPP pursue charges. It has, however, recommended the DPP purse Andrew Cornwell and his wife Samantha Brookes.