Third Liberal staffer exits Matthew Guy’s office
- Opposition leader Matthew Guy has lost a third staff member in a week.
- The exit of office manager Simone Clencie follows the departure of communications director Lee Anderson.
- The opposition leader’s chief of staff Mitch Catlin quit last week after The Age revealed he approached a Liberal donor to pay $100,000 into his private marketing business.
The Victorian Liberals have lost a third staff member in a week as the party reels from a donor scandal just three months out from the November state election.
The office manager of opposition leader Matthew Guy left on Wednesday, one day after the director of communications, Lee Anderson, quit over a disagreement with new chief of staff Nick McGowan.
Matthew Guy has lost a third staffer in abrupt circumstances in a week. Credit:Scott McNaughton
There are conflicting accounts over whether office manager Simone Clencie, who has been contacted for comment, quit or was forced to resign. The opposition declined to comment, but confirmed her role had been replaced.
Liberal sources said Clencie, who does not have a political background, was hired by former chief of staff Mitch Catlin when he joined Guy’s team in September.
Catlin quit last week after The Age revealed he approached billionaire Liberal donor Jonathan Munz to pay $100,000 into his private marketing business. The contract was never executed.
Documents show Catlin hired lawyers to draft a contract for the arrangement, then sent it to Guy, asking he “forward [it] onto” Munz. The proposed contract contained a clause saying it would be terminated if Catlin left the role of chief of staff to the opposition leader.
“Hey MG. Attached is the proposed agreement between [the donor] and Catchy Media Marketing and Management,” Catlin wrote to Guy’s private Hotmail address. “It’s as per the original email agreement between you and me. Can I leave you to forward onto him?”
Guy last week said he did not forward the email to the donor, that no payment was made, and no contract was signed. He said Catlin stood down to “maintain the perception of integrity”.
“Mitch stood down because we want to maintain the perceptions are right, that there is nothing that could be incorrect, even though nothing was signed, nothing agreed,” Guy said.
Several Liberal sources said Anderson offered his resignation to McGowan after the pair clashed over the opposition’s media strategy.
The relationship was further soured after Guy was interviewed on 3AW on Monday and asked when he found out that Catlin, his former chief of staff, had approached a donor for private payments and what he did about it.
In the radio interview, which some of his colleagues described as a “train wreck”, Guy repeated his defence that the deal with the donor never went ahead, which prompted anger from listeners, who said the interview had cost him the election.
Anderson refused to detail the reason for his exit but told The Age he was looking forward to spending more time with family and offered his “support and best wishes to the entire [opposition] team”.
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