Embattled ABA chief, David Flint, is yet to rule out a second stream of letters with 2GB breakfast host, Alan Jones, first raised two weeks ago by Mark Day in The Australian.
Professor Flint has let slip an opportunity to issue a categorical denial, after receiving several questions from the ABC’s ‘Media Watch’.
According to Day, the new stream of letters was exchanged in the middle of last year, when the ABA was investigating whether Jones was meeting his cash for comment disclosure obligations (the $1.2m advertising deal with Telstra).
He says the 2003 letters began when Flint sent Jones a copy of his book, Twilight of the Elites. Those who have seen the correspondence say Jones’ responses were of “gushing admiration”.
On last night’s Media Watch, host David Marr, said: “Even Media Watch hesitates to believe the head of the ABA could be stupid enough to write personal letters to a man under investigation by his own authority. So we checked. We asked Flint:
“Did you send Alan Jones a copy of your book, ‘The Twilight of the Elites’?
“Did you correspond with Alan Jones during 2003?
“If you did correspond with Mr Jones in 2003, did you declare this correspondence to ABA staff and other members of the ABA board?
“We hoped the answers would be ‘no, no and not applicable’. But, through the ABA’s spokesman, Donald Robertson, Flint replied last Monday:
“During the active involvement of the Board in any investigation, the only contact the Chairman has with those involved is to further the purpose of the investigation.
“Whatever that stream of words means, it doesn’t mean no. We pointed out to Flint that the statement does not deny the existence of the correspondence. This leaves open the inference that you did, in fact, correspond with Alan Jones in 2003, during the ABA’s investigation of Telstra’s sponsorship.
“We’ve heard nothing back from him. We have also sent letters to each member of the ABA’s Board, alerting them to Flint’s weird response and asking:
“Do you consider it would be improper for the Chairman to engage in such correspondence during the ABA investigation into the sponsorship of Alan Jones’ program?
“What action has the ABA Board taken to establish whether this correspondence did, in fact, take place?
“Again no replies, but the ABA Board meets on Thursday where only three respectable outcomes seem possible.
“Either Flint makes a clear cut denial of the second stream of correspondence. Or, he resigns. Or, the rest of the Board walks out.”