AceShowbiz - "Lord of the Rings" director Peter Jackson has been accused of influencing a mayoral election in his native New Zealand.
The filmmaker has been at odds with the incumbent mayor of New Zealand's capital, Justin Lester, over a proposed housing development project near his studios, next to picturesque Shelly Bay.
Lester's opponent, Andy Foster, won by 503 votes in a shock election result on Saturday, October 12, after receiving political and financial backing from the movie legend, a result that has infuriated the outgoing mayor.
"It's unfortunate in New Zealand that an election can be bought," Lester, who spent $13,000, around a third of Foster's funds, tells The New York Times.
Jackson reportedly gave heavily to the new mayor's campaign - but official figures have not been announced.
Hitting out at the filmmaker, Lester adds "Just because someone has more money or influence doesn't mean they should have a greater say."
In a statement released by his company, WingNut Films, Jackson says that he, "along with the thousands of Wellingtonians" who voted Foster and other candidates into office, "shared their aims of bringing greater transparency and accountability to local government."
In March, The New Zealand Herald reported that the director met New Zealand's prime minister Jacinda Ardern to discuss rumours her government would cut subsidies for the film industry. The subsidies were left untouched.
Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" and "Hobbit" films have been credited with providing a huge boost to his homeland's film industry, but Lester argued that the development was necessary to solve the city's housing shortage.